This is just plain silly, but whatever.
Last week I went to bikram yoga class, which I do five or six days a week. You can stop now if this bores you: I just want to write it as a reminder to myself of what a dumbass I can be.
So, there are lots of variations in yoga poses that are geared to fit your level of practice. Last Monday during class I did one of the "advanced" poses, which is one of the few that I can do well enough to make it a regular thing. In the pose, you are standing on one leg, your other leg is parallel to the floor (stretched out in front of you) and you have your fingers interlaced with your grip around the ball of your foot that is kicked straight out. Hmmmm. I think a graphic is called for:
I’m talking about #5. So, my hands were really slick from sweat (the room is 105 degrees with 40% humidity) and I fell out of the pose right in front of the teacher, who said to me quietly, "Maybe you aren’t ready to go there yet," which is a totally fair and probably true statement. But, THEN he said to all 37 people in the class something about how yoga isn’t a contest, that you don’t have to try to impress your neighbor and blah blah blah. And, I was thinking, Namaste, motherfucker, I am in the right back corner of class and I am NOT trying to compete. I don’t know why it irritated me so much (oh, I don’t know, Jen, maybe because it’s partly TRUE?), but it put me in a bad mood and when it came time to do my verymostfavorite pose (#12) I just stayed in #11 because not too many people do it and I didn’t want him to think I was showing off.
After class I was certain that he hated me and didn’t want me in his class. I don’t know why I always assume that everyone hates me, but I do. Fast forward six days to yesterday afternoon. The yoga teacher (who is one of my two favorite instructors, by the way) is coming into the studio as I’m leaving. He’s in the middle of walking and saying hello to the other people when I wave at him and say hello. The smile on his face disappeared and he looked away. And I was CERTAIN that it was all about me: that he hated me for trying to do harder stuff when I was too new and I just knew that he wanted to give me the cold shoulder so I wouldn’t come to his class and sully it ever again.
Tonight I went to his class and I was really nervous about it. I decided that I’d just hang out and do the beginner style poses and not stress. So, we get to #4 and he goes into a little talk about how staying in #4 is just as good for you as going into #5. Then on the second set, he suddenly encouraged everyone to try it. I did and I did a decent job of it: I was steady and got my elbows below my knees and kept my leg up. So, that was good. When I was in Tree (#11) he came up behind me and put one finger from each hand really lightly on the tops of my shoulders and traced outward, very nicely reminding me to get my shoulders even. When it was time for my favorite (#12 – toe stand) I went ahead and did it. I didn’t look around much, but I don’t think too many other people did. Whatever. For me, it is much easier to do than it looks. I did fine on one side, but sorta choked on the other because I had a weird cramp in the arch of my foot. But, I had a really good class and felt great afterward. When I was walking out, I decided to test the water and said thanks and goodbye. And, you know, he said to me, "Nice toe stand." Of course, I have to continue to be a dumbass, so I said, "Thanks! I kinda fell back in the second one. I had a cramp in my foot." And he said, "Eh, it happens." I realized that I was babbling so I just said thanks again and left.
I got to the car and realized that I was feeling a pretty medium amount of stress over the whole thing FOR A WHOLE WEEK and that it had (almost positively) been all in my head. So, I’m hoping to learn a few things from all this big long boring-ass story. One is that it is not all about me. Probably when he talked to the class about not competing, he just did it because it came to mind for him and not necessarily because of me. The other thing I learned is that it’s probably not true that everyone hates me.
So, that was my most recent act of dumbassness. I’m really glad that I went to class tonight instead of just staying away. I still won’t be grabbing my heels in camel (#22) anytime soon, though; that is way too hard core for me.
that should be your new tagline… namaste motherfucker, namaste.
I always think everyone hates me too.
And looking at those poses and trying some of them has made me realize how utterly unflexible I have become.
I always feel like everyone hates me and then I never go back. So bravo to you for going back even though it felt like he hated you. That takes some serious courage.
There is nothing quite as therapeutic as a class of Birkram’s. I am so envious that you are going, I haven’t been since right before Devon was born, 2 1/2 years ago. But when your yoga bubble gets popped like yours did? Ouch, it smarts something fierce. Good for you for going back!
My absolute favorite is that damn #22. Love it.
That’s what I love about yoga – the fact that you’re not supposed to compete with those around you. That it’s a personal experience and there is no “better than.” My problem is that I have a hard time remembering that. It’s a journey, I guess, and I’m striving to keep it in mind. Still, I hear this in my head when I nail a position (which doesn’t happen often): “Wow. I’m pretty good! I hope they all notice how good I am. ‘Cause I’m rockin’ tree today.” It’s about that time that I fall on my ass. Karma, dude. It’s karma.
P.S. I’ve never done bikram (although there’s a studio near where I live). I take yoga classes at my gym. I’m curious about Bikram, but it’s always intimidated me. I’m not sure if I could hack the heat. Do you like it better than other yoga classes you’ve taken?