Sunday, November 16, 2014

Gratitude, Day 3

In August, a Bikram yoga studio opened up really close to me. It was a dream come true for me; I love Bikram, but I couldn't mange the 15+ mile drive to the closest studio, or the drop-in rate very regularly. Having a place to practice that is only 4 miles away made me super happy. I've been going weekly ever since, with the exception of the times when my kids are out of school.

Being able to practice regularly has opened my eyes a lot to this style of yoga. I found out that as much as I love the class, I equally hate and despise parts of it. My feet ache in almost every posture. I hate how wobbly and inflexible I am on my left side. I dread going into Standing Bow Pulling, Standing Head to Knee, and Standing Separate Leg to Knee poses. This dread is only surpassed by my ultimate hatred for Camel Pose, which simultaneously makes me want to weep, and run from the hot room, screaming.

But mostly I love it. I love learning little tricks to making the poses easier. I love how I'm overcoming some of my balance issues, and how I'm getting more flexible.

I also love the owner and the tone that she sets for the studio. The Salt Lake studio I had practiced at was really intimidating. Everyone was so granola-y, with their Subarus in the parking lot and fancy yoga mats and towels and row upon row of perfect pose practitioners. I didn't feel welcome there; being there brought out my competitive side, and I didn't like that. Who tries to compete in yoga, after all. Ronda, the owner of the studio here, is really kind and real. It filters down from her to make it a very nice place.

One of the poses I've really been practicing at is Standing Separate Leg Stretching Pose. Basically, you are standing with your feet 3-4 feet apart. You grab your heels from the outside and pull, lengthening the backs of the legs as well as down the torso. The object is to touch the top of your head to the towel. I've touched my forehead in class one time before this week, but I didn't really do it the right way; my stance was too wide, and I wasn't lengthening from the right places.

But on Friday, I did it. I was really close on the first time through the pose. Since every pose is done twice, I thought I might be able to do it the second time around, and I was right. The stars aligned, and for a brief moment right before the pose ended, my forehead touched the towel.

The rest of the class felt like floating. I didn't mind any of the other poses I usually hate. I didn't want to run screaming out of the heat into the cool reception room. And while I don't know that I could do it every time, that time, I succeeded in a small thing. A small thing that really means nothing in the large context of my life, but it made me happy.

I've been thinking about my post about the envy I felt this spring during my first time back to Bikram. It was so unfair of me to be so envious. I made a realization of sorts during class on Friday. There was a group of girls who were having their first class. I watched them here and there and listened to the instructor help them with the poses. I wasn't really comparing myself to them (although I felt bad for one girl, who had worn some mascara and eyeliner and it ended up melting all over; nothing is safe from the sweat during hot yoga), but I recognized their inexperience and wondered how they would react to the class.

After the class, they were all in the locker room while I was getting dressed. They were talking and laughing about the class, enjoying the bewilderment of doing something new. And then they started talking about running, and how they were going to run 13 miles the next day for their long run (they were training for the Arizona Marathon in February.) Envy set in. Envy I haven't felt before in that studio, but that I brought to myself when I realized that even though it was their first class in Bikram, and that they probably didn't love it, they would be running a lot farther than I am running these days, and I imagined that they were all a lot faster than me, and I instantly felt crappy about myself. Despite my happy moment of touching my forehead to the towel. I started comparing myself to them, and it took my happy place away.

Why do I do that to myself?

I realize set myself up to want things and abilities that I haven't earned. I want to be the best writer, the best blogger, the best runner, the best yogi, the best photographer, the best reader, the best mom, the best cook, the best everything. Not because I want to be better than others, but I just don't want to be less than them. Is that the same thing? I don't know. I think that being competitive is part of my nature, but that it doesn't really serve me well. It sets me up for feeling things like envy that isn't really fair to either me or the other person.

So how am I to be grateful in this? I guess I want to stop putting myself down. I want to stop setting myself up to be the person that I pity. I want just be glad I touched the towel and not berate myself for not being able to run 13 miles the next day. I want to be grateful for what I can do, even if it isn't the best. Even if it's just one pose, for one day.  I want to stop doing the mental and emotional mathematics of who is better or worse or equal to me.

Knowing that I can try to learn to be that person, gives me something to be grateful for.


Lucy said...

My sister-in-law is into Bikram Yoga too. I’m intrigued even though I have never connected with regular Yoga. I have always been bored.

I struggle comparing myself with others too. I don’t know how to get around it and be completely at zen with who I am. It’s easy for me to see you and your awesomeness (you do everything so well) and think it’s crazy that a comment about 13 miles could create those emotions do it too! You run and you create and you work and you excel! Maybe we just need friends to remind us when we forget. I’ll remind you!