This was my first thought on waking up today. A lousy night’s sleep and I’m feeling really sick. Plus it was raining hard. But I went to yoga class anyway. This two hour class on a Sunday morning still feels like such a gift and I don’t easily reject the offering. I was uncertain how I’d feel in class: as a precaution I spent a few experimental breaths in down dog before the class started, testing if inversions were likely to have messy consequences…!
It felt OK. So I sat for a while tuning in, setting an intention for my practice — to negotiate the physical discomforts through steady practice. This is how my body is some days, so that’s part of how I practice.
When I opened my eyes the room was filling up and my fellow yogis were going through their pre-class rituals. The most eye-catching was someone off to my right holding unsupported headstand, something I can only dream of. And someone else was kicking up into handstand against the wall on my left. Seriously? This isn’t my idea of a warm-up! Sanctimonious thoughts aside, I was a bit jealous too, I admit it. Whirling thoughts started up about how my practice was going to compare today. But I’d set my intention and I knew I had taken a big step to get to class, so I tried to put that aside.
And my practice was just fine. I kept within my limits. I played around a bit when I wanted to, but mostly I just worked my way steadily through. Each āsana was a gentle probing of what was possible. Never mind what shape anyone else was making, my practice was an exploration of sukha (ease) and duḥkha (suffering). And of course in this I forgot about everyone else. I’ve been going to some restorative yoga classes recently and this has been helpful in finding how to use the breathe to create ease and let go of tension.
At the end of class my body was still never going to pop up into headstand or handstand, but I just felt some physical relief and quiet satisfaction that I’d brought a lot of fears and tension into the studio with me, and I wasn’t taking them home again with me. Sure, I was still feeling uncomfortable but I was somehow more comfortable with that state. Not quite ānanda (bliss), but that’s not what I was aiming for!
At least I think I can face eating something now. A prosaic but important outcome of this practice!
image source: bookofthrees.com