For the first time since I began my practice, I left yoga class last night frustrated and depressed.
I’ve been doing daily yoga practice before my 20 minute meditation every morning at 6am. Some days it feels glorious and I start the day off standing taller, feeling centered and more at ease. Other days, it’s just so-so but I power through and try to find the little moments in my practice that make my soul and body sing. That perfect alignment in a pose and the deep stretch it gives, the connection of my body to my spirit, the feeling of being IN my body whole which is, as I have talked about before, something I wrestle with. Meditation is still a struggle for me but I’m new to it and I try not to let negativity creep in. Being aware of my thoughts during meditation is progress. As much as I would prefer to just be good at it right off the bat, having to work at it will make me appreciate it more.
And there is the crux of it.
Not being good. Not automatically succeeding. Not having it be easy. It’s frustrating and I’m fighting it. Last night I felt sorry for myself. I was internally pouting complete with stomping my feet, huffing, crossing my arms, and shedding tears. Why can’t I do a handstand?! I can barely kick halfway up. Knowing my teacher took years to get up into handstand is not comforting me. I feel ridiculous and stupid. I look around the room at other yogis who are upside down being held up by their partner and there I am stuck on the ground. I hate it. It doesn’t seem to matter that I can now get into unassisted half-handstand which two months ago I had never in my life done nor believed I was capable of. I brush aside the fact that I can hold plank pose without faltering for far longer than I ever thought possible. No, none of those accomplishments matter because I am focused on my failure, my not being good enough, my being the largest person in the class.
Before we even got to handstand during the forearm plank and side forearm plank poses I faltered. It’s sort of how I felt when we started plank for one minute- petrified of failing and falling out of the pose. The agonizing over how my body shakes all comes rushing back to me when I lift into forearm plank. I feel awkward and unsure if I am in the right positioning. I can hold it for the 25 seconds (we’re working up to one minute slowly over 8 weeks) when on both arms but then turning to one arm side plank I can only hold it for a few seconds. I ungracefully plopped my body on the mat, took a deep breath, then hoisted myself back up. I wobbled when trying to turn to the other side, fell again and just laid there on the mat with my utter defeat. In that moment something inside me screamed out LOSER and I succumbed to the bad feeling.
Then the whole handstand debacle happened and by the time we sat for stretching, I was so over myself. I wanted to run off and cry. In one particular stretch we fold one leg in and cross the other leg with the knee bent in front of the folded leg. We put the opposite arm in front of the bended leg and twist deeply. I struggle with this- not because I am not flexible because I am surprisingly nimble and even double jointed in some spots- because of my body size. My god damned belly is in the way! I get so furious at it which is so ridiculous really because it is a belly and who made it? That’s right. I DID.
Today I am still trying to dump the negative thoughts and focus on what I have accomplished thus far. In a little over 6 months I have gone from doing very little yoga to practicing daily at home and 3-4 times a week in the studio. I can hold plank pose for one minute. I can balance longer standing on one leg. I have done an unassisted half-handstand. I have stretched, breathed, and bent deeper than I ever have in my life. I have met obstacles and fears on the mat with grace. I have given thanks for the burn of my thighs in a squat, my arms afire reaching out, the shake of my body as my core strengthens. I have become in tune with my body and feel more alive in it. I’ve had moments of love and acceptance for the parts of my body that I am embarrassed and ashamed of. And I have shown up for myself over and over and over.
So I had a bad practice. I let myself dip into the pool of Not Good Enough. Thankfully that pool is more like a wading pool than an ocean. I can stand here and look back, realizing how that is a milestone in itself. The Not Good Enough Pool has shrunk within me. Again I am reminded: It’s about progress, not perfection.