Have you read Audi Moatti’s recent post, “The Real Shit” which appeared on the Ashtanga Yoga Project’s blog recently? The phenomena of hiding behind an image of perfectly zen ashtanga goodness, real or not, may just be our way of self preservation. Although I have broken into a tearful puddle on my mat many-a-time, this is certainly the case for me. I write this as my own answer to the call to reveal the “real shit” in MY life as JeanMarie did in her brutally honest post, “I am not okay.”
Over the years I’ve been practicing ashtanga, I have traveled through quite a few tunnels of darkness. Yet, admittedly, I do pretend to be okay. I don’t feel that I am unique in my want to conceal those times when I am just NOT okay. But that doesn’t mean that everything is sunshine and roses.
This past month, I’ve been going through some…um…”sh!t” (which I prefer not to post the details of here). This, of course, is on top of me trying to rebuild my yoga practice after my SI joint injury. As a result, there have been many-a-time when I have not wanted to roll out my mat in a room full of unsuspecting yogis. However, I go because….well…it’s what I do. It is my routine. Only those who know me over the past many years, the ones who actually watch my practice, can see that my current practice lacks the joy and ease that it once had.
Well, they probably think that I am just lazy or have lost interest in the practice. I have been showing up late and have trouble keeping my breath-movement synched (as any “good ashtanga” would). For me, it is “good” enough that I show up. It’s not that I’ve lowered the bar. Err, perhaps I have. Either way, I am not about to apologize for it; it is what it is.
- I am NOT perfect, nor do I pretend to be.
- I do, however, try not to melt down on the mat beside you.
- Try as I might, I do sometimes do just that.
- I also try not to let my overly-sensitive self lash out in an act of self-protection.
Although my IG account is filled with flowers, cute dogs, fatty foods, and Spartan racing pictures, I can assure you, everything is not all espresso and orchids in my world — OR perfect ashtangi bliss.
I found myself unable to get to mysore for most of last week for a number of reasons. As a result, my time on the mat was drastically reduced. I returned to the room on Sunday feeling oddly energized in spite of the hour “lost” to the time change. I began in the usual way with my surya namaskaras and standing poses, then moved to the early part of the seated series. I did all of my vinyasas, jumping back and through to the best of my ability as per the ashtanga tradition. At that point, I moved into intermediate to assess how my body would respond to adding back some of the poses I haven’t been doing for some time (namely kapotasana). The plan was to move into the pose with mindful observation, careful not to overdue it.
I surprised myself and touched down for the first time in several weeks. My teacher, who was leading the weekly led practice for all comers had her hands full with a large group of students that included the latest teacher trainees. Unlike most Sundays, she did not have an assistant. I have no idea if she even saw that I was moving into intermediate. I opted to leave well enough alone and stop just prior to all of the leg -behind-the-head poses.
I returned to the room on Monday, feeling brave enough to continue to explore some additional poses from intermediate. With my Spartan Race on Sunday, I opted to modify them so that I could gauge my body’s tolerance to them in a stepwise fashion and be insured not to open my hips to the level of instability they have been at up until now.
It’s been a while since I have written here. I was been given quite a few new poses and was plowing ahead in my practice with determination to learn these new poses. The realization that the end of second series was coming to a close, with just 7 headstands left in the sequence, both excited me and made me nervous.
I wish I could say that I have mastered the poses leading up to these new one, but I haven’t. And I was okay with that until….another sacroiliac injury hit. Now, I am barely doing any yoga as I let my body heal. In the poses that do unfold on my mat, I notice a heightened awareness of how my body responds to even the most subtle of movements. I am learning a lot as I find ways to modify my approach to my practice (poses, props, and omissions). It is my expectation that I will come out on the other side of this injury armed with a lot of new knowledge.
In the meantime, I am reminded to take it slow in my return.
Eka Pada Sirsasana (EPS) and I have been in a relationship for several years now. In the first year, after the honeymoon phase had ended, we experienced a challenging period of time. To be honest, neither of us were sure that our relationship was worth the effort. We went through a period of on-again-off-again for another 6-8 months before we decided to put in an honest and dedicated effort.
As is the case with many relationships, the magic doesn’t happen without seeing through the ups and the downs. Its as if each party needs to know that the other is all in and isn’t going to walk away as soon as a younger, prettier, and more flashy option floats by on the neighboring mat.
Each day, we showed up and spent time together. Some days, it was all we could do just to be with (barely tolerating) one another. Yet, other days, we spent as much time as we could together — exploring the likes and dislikes, discovering our strengths and vulnerabilities, and gaining some trust that the relationship might just work out for the longer term.
And because we have worked so diligently to become dedicated to maintaining the relationship, we are able to spend time with a few new friends (karandavasana, mayursasana, nakrasana, and vatayanasana) without jealousy. It’s good.