On being a quitter

Aside from whatever asanas I’m interested in, my teacher often gives me some creative ‘homeworks’, encouraging me to explore my practice from a whole range of perspectives. Current assignment is to consider ‘what is real?’ Answers on a postcard please! Everything feels distinctly unreal right now, but not in any interesting philosophical way…!

Another recent suggestion was to ask my husband to describe what he sees in my practice. I think he was hoping I’d get a loving endorsement from Hubby in the way he himself would never offer as my teacher. He’s a master of encouraging self-sufficiency in his students (aka never giving praise!).

I guess I must have picked the wrong moment to ask Hubby because his answer took me a little by surprise. I’ve almost managed to suppress it from my memory but the phrase ‘embarrassing quitter’ is still lingering unpleasantly. The worst thing? That it might sound harsh, but it’s arguably quite fair 😦 I have myself been noticing recently how difficult I find it to stick with physical challenges. If an asana or transition is tricky I tend to give up or avoid it. In home practice, without the encouragement of a group or a teacher, that’s all too easy to do! All I can say is that I’m working on it — noticing my habits and the mental stories behind them, giving myself a whole load of compassion and then seeing if I can expand my capacity a little more…

That was then. Today home practice today brought a completely different perspective from Hubby. I was in Salabhasana, a pose I’m loving to hate since it has featured so strongly in my teacher’s classes of late. I looked sideways to the mirror, probably the first time I’ve ever seen myself in this pose. And I was amazed by the shape my body made, and how — well — locusty it looked. Front of the shoulders lifted, shaping the front of the insect, arms swept back like wings, legs lifted like the tail. No wonder my teacher shouts out ‘fly, feel the breeze beneath your wings!’

I cried at my beautiful reflection. Overcome by something like relief that my body, which still carries such a story of betrayal and brokenness, looked so wonderful and strong and uplifted. The reflection showed me everything I’ve ever hoped for in this posture but never thought I’d find. It’s just how I expect someone else, a ‘real yogi’, to look. And this was me. My beautiful, bewildered reflection; my beautiful Salabhasana.

Hubby sat me down once I’d finished and told me a different version of what he sees in my practice. Not about being an embarrassing quitter this time. This version was about grace and beauty, about smooth movement and lightness on hands or feet, about ongoing changes in strength and flexibility and about all the times he comes in finds me doing a posture he’s never seen before and didn’t know how I could…

So which of these is ‘real’?

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