Last Saturday morning, I went to yoga hoping to stretch those tight hip flexors. From the very start, I set an intention to make my practice as juicy as possible, something one of our other teachers had invited us to do before. However, having just held my first triple-decker plank that morning, or maybe because of last night’s insomnia, I had a high level of adrenaline. So, one intention was just not going to cut it. The class had started and I was still trying to narrow down my intentions. “Wait, one more. I also intend to learn off-the-mat lessons. There. Now let’s do this.”
Throughout the practice, I breathed better, moved slower, even tried to get deeper into the poses. In down dog, I really pushed my heart out. In headstand, I tightened my core to take the pressure off the neck. It all felt great, but my off-the-mat lessons were not coming and soon frustration began setting in. Of course every time I went into my head in search of a lesson, I lost presence.
This went on for a while. Her adjustments would bring me back to my breath and a few poses later, I’d get lost again.
Finally she asked us to come to Savasana. For my non-yoga readers, this is the rest pose at the end of class. You pretty much lie on your back.
My mind would not quiet down.
Me: Should I go to Rowster’s (coffee shop) after this? Ooh the Latin film festival is going on too.
Enlightened self: Shhh. Stop it. Let the thoughts go.
A few seconds of quiet. Then…
Me: What time is the movie again?
Enlightened self: Come on. This is your time, your slice of rest. Remember? Rest you crazy insomniac.
A few more seconds of quiet. Then again…
Maybe I can go to dinner after the movie.
Seeing that nothing was working, the now impatient enlightened self had a sudden association: Savasana means corpse pose, and suddenly:
Die! You are in corpse pose for God’s sake. Act like it.
I let out an audible giggle and thus my resting pose came to an end.
The life lesson did come. It just decided to show up at the end of the practice, perhaps to emphasize the value of patience.
You see, I have read there are three C’s in yoga: confidence, clarity, and compassion. I had the confidence to do the poses, at least for that day, plus the clarity to make them juicy. Yet, I lost sight of compassion. How can you have compassion for others if you don’t have it for yourself?
Naturally, the part that told me to die was not enlightened by any means. Ego comes in different shapes.
You can’t always be perfect. You aim high of course, but just like your instructor thanks you for “coming to class, for sharing your practice with me,” consider thanking yourself for showing up and doing the work. Now, add a dose of compassion for the wandering mind and, sometimes, uncooperative body.
After all it’s yoga practice, not yoga perfect.