Yesterday I had a drip, drip, drippy, red-faced, praying to God, wanting my mother kind of class. As I headed into Eagle Pose and contemplated my too high heart rate and my bright red cheeks I knew I was paying for that extra glass of wine, off balance sleeping pattern, and weird food that I had indulged in the two days before. I sighed inwardly and thought, “You’ve done it before and you’ll do it again and you always make it through,” reaching for my foot as I entered Standing Head to Knee Pose.
The Standing Series flew by with some success and less drama that I had anticipated and suddenly we were laying on the floor in Savasana. Cobra Pose felt great and I was able to get deeper than I had in weeks, but after the second set my heart rate wouldn’t slow down, so I knew I had to take a break. It happens. It’s not the end of the world, but it’s also not ideal for my crazy have to be perfect mind. So, I sat out first set of Locust Pose enviously eyeing those around me as they lifted their leg in the air, pushing into the floor with all of their might as I simply concentrated on my breath and getting my heart rate under control.
When second set of Locust Pose came up I was ready to reengage and was tickled with myself as I felt my legs lift up higher than they had in weeks. “Cool!” I thought, but then noticed my heart rate was once again way too high. Ugh. I had to sit out first set of Full Locust as well. But then, just as in Locust Pose, I shocked myself with a larger lift than I had had in awhile for that second set. Still feeling over heated and worn out I had to take yet another break during first set of Bow Pose. For weeks I have been working on not worrying about how high I kicked up, but instead, keeping the knees even more together than I had previously to achieve a deeper backward bend. And when I engaged in the second set, for the first time in a month, I saw my toes come over the top of my head while my knees remained shoulder width distance apart. Awesome!!
The rest of the class was survivable. I was challenged, but was able to make it through without having to sit out any other postures. As I walked out of the hot room after a long Savasana at the end I was happy with the way the class went. I used to be so hard on myself if I had to take a break. My mind would go into the mode of lazy-no-good-why-can’t-you-just-keep-going-fat-girl thoughts. Now I know that sometimes a break is exactly what needs to happen and it doesn’t make me more or less of a good student of the yoga.
So often I ask a student how their class went and they reply, “Awful. I had to sit out twice.” I always think this is an odd way to classify whether or not they had a good class. Do they think they are less than awesome? They showed up to a 105-degree room with wicked humidity and lasted for 90 minutes as they moved from posture to posture. Whether or not this included taking a seat to take care of themselves, they are still awesome and incredible things might have happened for their practice if they were paying attention to the task at hand instead of focusing on the break they took half an hour ago.
The great thing about yoga is you simply need to show up and roll out your mat. Once you’re in it, whatever happens, happens. Try not to be hard on yourself. When you look in the mirror say kind things to yourself. Appreciate the body you have and enjoy what it can already accomplish throughout the 90-minutes. If you take a break, know it’s not the end of the world and the teacher is not thinking you are a lazy bum. We can see the difference between taking a break because you need to, or taking a break because you would rather not do a particular posture. Once you reengage in the practice start over. Let that break go and embrace the possibilities of the rest of your session. You never know when a breakthrough can happen. It almost always happens when you least expect it. And it could happen in that drip, drip, drippy, red-faced, praying to God, wanting your mother kind of class. That actually could be the best class you have all week.
Remember: The only yoga class you regret is the one you don’t show up to, so get to class!
Originally posted to viewsfromthepodium.com on May 26, 2015