It feels like the hardest work I’m doing in yoga right now doesn’t look like much from the outside. All the most important shifts in my practice are internal: releasing the tension in my jaw, isolating muscles, shifting my weight, drawing up my belly to support my spine, etc. It feels big to me and it takes all my attention but I know that I’m often the only one who notices.
Today my instructor, Shelby, reminded us that the way we enter and leave a pose is just as important as what we do while we’re in it. That feels important to me right now. It feels important to make the whole 90 minutes a constant fluid event instead of a series of grueling experiences broken by the glorious relief of savasana.
Perhaps the sentiment appeals because I’m working on it in my life as well. I’m working to make my life something interesting as a whole instead of breaking my days into sections of work/play/exercise/etc. This desire has required that I play a long game to change my life and my career and give up some short term gratifications. I think it’s worth it but I’m not sure how it will play out.
Again, it feels like hard internal work that no one sees but me. I have to remind myself that I don’t need two pairs of eyes to acknowledge the truth of something. I can know it’s true, I can know I’m working, I can know I’m shifting internally and it’s ok if it isn’t immediately obvious to the outside world.
When I did martial arts, we worked on combinations of blocks, kicks, punches, rolls etc. that we called storms. One day our instructor put the class of 13 people into a 10 x 10 foot space and gave us these instructions. 1. Do a storm. 2. Don’t go out of this space. 3. Don’t kick anyone.
We were already shoulder to shoulder and had trouble standing without touching each other so he gave us a minute to absorb the instructions and then said “I know this sounds impossible. Do it anyway.”
I’ve decided that “I know this sounds impossible, do it anyway” is the unofficial motto of Bikram. I feel like I’m always trying to absorb completely conflicting lists of instructions “Go forward while stretching back,” “Pull your heels up and push your head down,” “Lift your heart, look back, don’t collapse your lower back,” “do it with a happy smiling face!”
But somehow I know that it all feels impossible because my mind gets in the way. Most things are impossible until they’re done and then they become routine like personal computers and 4 minute miles.
I keep reminding myself that impossible is a state of mind.
In other news, cute football players in Bikram today. That inspired a lot of happy smiling faces…