I might have missed my exit if this were my first day driving into the District. The rising sun made it impossible to see the sign for Rosslyn/Key Bridge. But by now, this sixth day of my 10-Day Yoga Challenge, I feel like I know what I’m doing, and I know where to turn.
And I feel good.
The soreness of the first few days has faded. My arms are stronger. My belly might be a little flatter. My legs are more solid. My heart is lighter.
So when the teacher gave us the choice to do a “connecting vinyasa” or to just stay in downward-facing dog, I was actually glad for the opportunity to lower down into chaturanga and then rise into cobra — and even up dog a few times. I’m sure my form could still use some work, but what a joy to enjoy rather than dread this powerful flow.
I admit, though, it also helped that the teacher started the class slowly, with us in lying back in bound cobbler, or supta baddha konasana, and then a few other gentle poses. Since the class was only one hour, 6:30-7:30 a.m., I knew that there could only be so many minutes of active poses! So I enjoyed them in the moment.
And isn’t that really the message of yoga: be in the moment, and don’t think about the future? But I have an intense need to put things in context, like I did today: “I can do this now if I get to rest later.”
I do it all the time parenting, too, and when my expectations are so far from reality, it’s easy to get thrown off.
For example, I thought to myself that I would write this piece after the baby went to sleep. But she must be about to welcome some teeth, because nothing is working with her this week. Sleep needs to be initiated by riding: in a car, in a stroller, or on a parent’s back. The idea of accomplishing a certain set of tasks is thrown out the window many times a day.
I recently attended a workshop with Karen Maezen Miller, author of Momma Zen and Hand Wash Cold, at Lil Omm studio. Miller wouldn’t let us take notes, so I’m a little hazy on what all she said when. But I know I breathed a lot, and well, and I know she said of the phrase “live in the now” something like “But now is all there is.” Of course. But how rarely we live that way. Instead, we live like the now is unimportant; it will soon be over and we will finally be on to the real thing, the New Now.
Sometimes that looking ahead serves our sanity, like telling ourselves a baby won’t always need to suck on something to fall asleep. Sometimes it allows ourselves to take on something that might seem daunting, like a vinyasa when you know their numbers are limited. Or ten consecutive days of yoga when you know they will run out.
Knowing I have this challenge to fulfill — this specific thing in the midst of so many half-projects and unclosed correspondence loops — has made me happy. I love looking forward to the practice and to the process. It feels so good to breathe consciously, to find new spaces and to cultivate compassion and confidence to do things I never think of while washing dishes or changing a diaper, like “brighten my belly.”
Tonight, I don’t worry too much about only doing a few stretches before bed because I know I will get a full practice in the morning. Now is acceptable because Later will be good.
What if I gave myself that gift of commitment on a regular basis, not so that I would constantly live in the future but just so that a healthy pattern would just be how we do things instead of something I have to squeeze into small spaces, spaces I can’t force into being and that might disappear?
I just forgot to breathe. I remembered.
There is only this moment. And now this one.
Thank you, Day Six.
Other posts in this series:
Day One: The challenge begins!
Day Two: “Let your bottom blossom”
Day Six: “Brighten the belly”
Day Eight: “Expose your heart”
I did yoga for the first time in a long time recently and all the terms were baffling to me, so I really appreciate your linking the terms to pages with definitions and photos. Even more so, I appreciate the challenge you’ve posed to yourself (and implicitly to others) and I’m glad that it’s been rewarding to you.
“What if I gave myself that gift of commitment on a regular basis, not so that I would constantly live in the future but just so that a healthy pattern would just be how we do things instead of something I have to squeeze into small spaces, spaces I can’t force into being and that might disappear?” Love this. So true, how we have these moments of “perfection” that are how we want things to be but that are all too rare. Six days! You go!!
thank you, Patricia! you and your work inspire me!
Thank you! Yoga is for sure a learning curve that goes in many directions. You could do the exact same class at different points in your life or just on different days of the week, and it will strike you totally differently depending on what you bring to the mat.