I gave an exam today, and I took a book to read during class, Poser: My Life in Twenty-three Yoga Poses by Claire Dederer. Great book – I highly recommend it so far.
I am blogging about the book, but reading it has me thinking about my own experience with yoga (as exercise, not as a philosophical framework for life). Since I was a little girl I have always been very flexible, while somewhat lacking in two other essentials – strength and balance. I have done yoga off and on for much of my life, and I love the way it makes me feel.
I flirt with the idea of starting a regular yoga practice again, but when I think about actually taking the leap, I am filled with dread – it’s hard, really hard, and when I remember all the things I used to be able to do, the hill looks too high to climb. Several months ago I tried to do a Biggest Loser Yoga DVD – it looked ridiculously easy, so I thought I would start there to build my confidence. I couldn’t hold my balance, wasn’t strong enough to go properly into the poses, and my hips were so tight that I almost felt as though I was trapped in someone else’s body. I finished the 20 minute ordeal, crying the whole time. That wasn’t the yoga I remembered – yoga used to make me feel strong and powerful, not miserable.
I haven’t looked back. Well, until today. And you know what? I have always been afraid to do certain yoga poses, two in particular. Fear really can be debilitating. Now that I have stepped away from all of the asanas (yoga poses), the simple idea of standing on my mat sounds terrifying.
What are the scary poses I haven’t tried? Don’t laugh – the first one is a backward somersault. Scary. Anything tumbling related kind of freaks me out (Cartwheels? I have no idea how to do one). In ashtanga yoga there is a short sequence of poses done in between each static pose – this is called vinyasa, and it links the other poses together. After some poses, vinyasa includes this somersault – my stomach is tied in knots just thinking back to my ashtanga class, where not once did I even attempt to roll back.
The other one is less embarrassing – I’m afraid of the headstand. I went through the motions with that one, at least. I dragged my mat to the wall, put my hands and head into position, and pretended to kick up into the headstand. Ha. Joke is on me, I guess – I told you it’s possible to cheat at yoga, but obviously you are only cheating yourself. But what happens if I kick up and then I’m doing a headstand? What if I fall? Terrifying.
Tonight I am sitting here with a lot to do. I have a pile of papers and exams to grade and another batch coming tomorrow, four heaping baskets of clean laundry to fold (some of which will certainly have to be ironed at this point), a kitchen that could use some serious attention, course prep that will probably keep me up until the wee hours at least once or twice in the week… I’m looking at toys and Little Mama’s drawing papers scattered all over the floor, and wondering, where is my yoga mat anyway? I have no idea. And I kind of want to try, but I know that, because of inertia, I am not going to try tonight, and the whole thing is making me very sad. Very sad.