I have a friend, Sara, who continued to practice yoga regularly throughout her first, and for most of, her second pregnancy. As she can pride herself on her determination, I can pride myself on my lazer focus on the posture. The two glorious attributes plus pregnancy postures proved an embarrassing combination during full locust.
I am incredibly glad that Sara and I are friends and that she has a very good sense of humor.
In fact, she is such an unflappable yogi that she actually did try to lift me -- by lifting her chest -- before I figured out that my hand was not actually resting on her shoulder. Great class.
We all know that we are supposed to look at our practice without judgement, without expectation. We also all know that his is a little bit bullshit.
Ideally, yes, I would not care what I did yesterday, or that with this many hours logged I should TOTALLY have a locked out knee by now. But my postures are not ideal and neither is my yogic attitude. I'm working on both, but if I admit that this is a process I must also admit that I'm not there yet and that's okay too.
With that said, I have found myself doubting my progress. As a result, when I drag myself into class lately I feel like I have been dragging a lot of baggage too.
I work hard but I find yoga frustrating, rewarding, time consuming, and necessary. For every reason I love it I also want to just walk away. It's painful to feel that way toward something you, at times, love so much and gives you so much in return.
I asked Gianna Purcell, a yogi I have watched in astonishment for the entire four years I have been practicing, how she kept her enthusiasm.
She told me (and this is WAY paraphrased because it happened like a month ago) that she sometimes felt like other people's expectations, although only put upon her by her own head, were a bit weighty. When that happens she'll walk away for a bit, take a few Ashtanga classes then come back to Bikram renewed.
'Other people's expectations?' YES! I've been feeling that but I know I shouldn't, 'cause, you know, "no expectations"? Nobody in my studio is expecting me to be a godess. They will be happy that I show up even if I stay on the floor the whole time breathing. They say this almost every class.
Still, in my own head it is hard not to feel like people want a certain level of practice from me. It comes from the first-timers in the locker room asking how long I've been practicing. From the wounded yogi working their asses off to heal themselves telling me I'm inspirational (I want to shake those people, "Look in the mirror for better inspiration, Yahoo!").
So my reaction to this new knowledge is two parts. Part one: I know I need to knock it off. It's all in my head. If I have to lie down all class just to prove to myself that nobody is going to care, I should do that. If I have to walk away for a bit, I need to do that.
And here is the second part: This is what I do to Gianna's practice. To Allan's. To Aura's. To Jessica's. To Liz's. The list of my yoga idols is extensive. The amount of fawning I do over them a little extreme. I have always intended this to be complimentary. It never occurred to me that these poor yogis are getting pressure from my words. So, to all my idols, please here this:
While I want your poses, what I really want is your cool. I idolize the self-assuredness. The ability to be in a room and own it without so much as a word. My idols have a passion for life and a determination that make it possible to achieve amazing craft. It is that craft, that attention to detail, the knowledge that working towards a goal, slowly, steadily, for years and years and years, is worth it.
If you never do another yoga posture again, I will still feel privileged to know you. I will probably still fawn over you (although I'm going to try to contain myself from here on out, you know, play it cool like some people would infront of rock stars). I will definitely still try to emulate you.
We surround ourselves by people we like. We hope they want to surround themselves with us. It is not a perfect bow that makes us fun at a party, comforting in a hospital room or strong in crisis. It is not a perfect bow I want from you.