Finding the Good in the Bad

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.

Ugh.

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.

 

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28 thoughts on “Finding the Good in the Bad

  1. This is a great reminder about life in general. Little steps, a little progress, eventually great results. Or not, in which case – turn around and take little steps in another direction.

  2. Can I just say that YOU ARE UP AT SIX AM.

    DOING YOGA.

    Which pretty much qualifies you as the most awesomely impressive person ever, in my book. πŸ™‚

  3. i can’t tell you how impressed i am that you’re still *doing this.* every day. every morning. that is AMAZING and even if you never progressed (which obviously you’re doing as well!) you should feel proud you’re even DOING it. honestly. i envy your discipline!

  4. perhaps i should have gotten up to do some yoga this morning when the cats announced their hunger, a full hour early, instead of snuggling back under the covers trying to shush one and cuddling another.

    it’s ok to dip in that pool. it’s what makes you strive to do better.

  5. I saw your tweet last night and commented. What I didn’t say then was sometimes you (meaning everyone) leave yoga feeling depressed. It happens. But one or a few bad yoga classes does not define your practice. Keep up the good work. I know you will get into that handstand before you know it. Chin up buttercup!

  6. Yoga does that to me, too… gives me reminders that not every day is the same, that I can’t predict how things will go. And it frustrates me to no end a good majority of the time. I know how that feels too well. But you’re right, we practice anyway and keep doing it, and accept that that’s the point.
    I’m so impressed that you practice every day at home. That has got to feel great that you make time for it.

  7. I totally get the jumping straight to “not good enough”. It isn’t true though, and really I think I have just realized that the only one who cares about me failing or not being “good enough” is me because I am the only one with the standards for myself that choose what defines good enough and failing. I’m sorry you are feeling frustrated with this. From an outside point of view I think you are pretty incredible to stick with this and work towards it. You can already kick my butt in yoga any day so you definitely haven’t failed.

  8. I know you aren’t asking for advice and I know you realize that your head is all that is getting in the way of what your body can do – so let me just say this again: focus solely on your breath. Meditate on it. Breathe in and out of every single posture. Do not think of anything else but breathing and you will be taken to a whole new level in your practice. I promise!

  9. You are doing AMAZING, Sizz. You’ve come so far! It’s normal to get discouraged, but I love that you’re recognizing it and not letting it get you down. πŸ™‚

  10. Hang in there, Sizz. If it were easy, you wouldn’t be getting so much out of it.

    I get it though, it’s a drag when you’re not as good at something as you want to be. I struggle with my “you’re a loser” voice too. Heard it even today, but also found myself saying, “eh, whatever” to it. Not exactly glorified self love, but progress all the same.

  11. Progress not perfection is what I always say about weight loss — when I”m not saying PERSISTENCE not perfection. You can totally do this, just be patient with yourself. Yoga is definitely not a linear process. ONce you nail that handstand, there will still be days that you cannot do it. And that is totally normal.

  12. Ohh, the belly issue. I have a whole bunch of self-loathing about that. I deal with it every. single. class.

    I’ve often told myself that if I am ever thin enough, I’ll start classes to become an instructor. Then I hate myself for thinking I am not good enough.

    Ugh. What an evil cycle. I’d be even more screwed without a regular practice.

  13. I reckon you think a little the way I do… I won’t play golf because it takes too long to get good at… I haven’t even considered yoga for the same reason… which puts you streets ahead of me because you’re actually doing it.

    I walked out of the gym last week feeling like you did yesterday because the scales scored up rather than down… apparently for no reason (yeah, right). All my working out and walking still wasn’t keeping up with what I’d been eating.

    SO

    This week I’m working harder on all counts… and when I weigh in next month the scores will be better. And even if they’re not, I’ll keep going because working out is better than not, and (if you know me) that I’m doing it at all is progress.

    SO

    you’re doing the right thing focusing on what you’ve achieved! And you are progressing – really, you are!

  14. You can do this!

    Also, my belly gets in the way. And um. So do my boobs. All the damn time. I look around at all the cute tiny-boobed girls and I realize I can’t lower down “halfway” because then my boobs are holding me up! πŸ™‚

  15. Bit of perspective. My record at a side plank is 30 seconds. Some days though it’s just not there and I’m lucky if I get to 10. Side planks are hard.

    You’ve come so far missy. Don’t give up ok? Get up tomorrow and try… Ok?

  16. Just this morning when Steven was dropping me off at the train station I told him how much I think doing yoga (1-3 times a week) is helping keep me injury free. And I told him – “I have really improved. I can stretch farther than before. It doesn’t look like much, and I have a lot of work to do, but it’s something.”

    And that’s the thing. For me, my yoga improvement is SO SLOW.

    I say all this knowing I would be frustrated in class, just like you. But you did the right thing looking back at what you’ve accomplished thus far!

  17. Several things:

    1. Really cheesy thing I read on the FB page of my fave workout place: “If you need to, take a little break. Remember, it’s not how many times you stop, it’s how many times you jump back in that matters!”

    2. You know what’s awesome about shaking muscles? They are working to the point of exhaustion — which means they’re developing! It’s progress. If it isn’t hard at all, your body and abilities will probably not change.

    3. It is totally natural to want to be the best at everything, and to feel like shit when you’re not, for a minute. The key, though, is that you are aware that you’re doing great stuff for yourself and you’re saying, “stop it! we’re good!” Eventually you’ll believe it (nearly) all the time. πŸ™‚

  18. i said the same thing to my trainer the other day.

    i am strong and really flexible, but the belly gets in the way.

    she doesn’t judge, thankfully.

    however, i have the same thoughts. people will judge my body when i am in a class, as if i cannot do the poses and sure, sometimes i struggle, but most times, i am doing just as well as all the other folks in my class.

    you are not alone πŸ™‚

    —————

    not good enough, not successful enough, not perfect enough-

    all that old old self talk…it doesn’t serve us. i know how hard it is to let it go…but we must.

    “forgiveness means giving up all hope for a better past.” – lily tomlin

    xo
    j

  19. Man can I relate to this post. You know I too struggle with perfection in pretty much everything I do. It’s such a hard thing to let go of. I am really inspired by your yoga progress, I’m still too big of a chicken to even try it and there is a studio next to my work. So go Sizz! for coming so far in such a short time.

  20. You know how I struggle with things I am not immediately good at as well. I read an article in the NY Times recently that said “smart kids” tend to have this problem–they grow up being praised for being smart, and in the process start to gradually weed out things they are not good at so as not to mar their “smart” image.
    ANYWAY. I am trying to understand why I keep running when all I do when I run is beat myself up over what a pokey and terrible runner I am. It’s like a weird form of masochism. Healthy masochism? I don’t know.
    Good job focusing on the positive. Keep. It. UP.!

  21. i’m disappointed if my muscles *don’t* shake in yoga. πŸ™‚

    i totally understand that feeling of not being good enough – of having this picture in your mind of who you think you’re supposed to be, feeling bad about not matching that picture, and then feeling bad about feeling bad!

    for instance, someone disappointed me recently. not in a big way, but let’s just say my expectations weren’t met. i was upset about that, but i was also upset about being upset. in my mind i picture a totally secure me who doesn’t care about stuff like this, who is so busy with her full life that she doesn’t even notice when people don’t measure up. but i’m not even close.

    i struggle with not beating myself up about it, with just acknowledging the disappointment and moving on. but i think being aware of what we’re doing is the first step – not just the first step, but a huge step that i for one have to take over and over, to keep reminding myself, because every time i think i’m *there* – where i’m supposed to be, i feel myself slipping back.

    but that’s okay. progress, like everyone says, not perfection.

  22. You keep going back. Know its a practice. Are an inspiration. That’s all that matters.

    And here’s the image that came to mind thinking about your body stuff. I’m scrawny. Spent a month with an old boyfriends family in India. Every morning the ladies did their yoga after the men went off to work and school. I joined them. Capris and crossback with their house saris. My boniness side by side with their round, full bodies. Yoga is for anyone. But it came from the land of womanly curves. Not the gym.

  23. I’ve been frustrated in yoga class before, too. Seems totally the wrong place for that, but it’s hard to look around and see other people doing things that you cannot bend your body into doing. But we’re all different. I’m sure the other people look at us sometimes and think “Man I wish I could do that” – even if it’s in reference to our canny ability to crack a good joke. πŸ™‚ The nice thing about this journey is that there’s no end to it. So let yourself go slowly. I think it’s great your teacher took a year to do a handstand. That means he/she was practicing all that time. That in of itself is a HUGE accomplishment (just like your 6-monther). I would pat you on the back (and the bottom) if I could to congratulate you on all you’ve accomplished so far. πŸ˜‰

  24. Pingback: No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.* « Sizzle Says

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