I’m at my yoga class – my weekly Saturday morning kickass class that is, at times, my religion. We’re winding down, and I’m feeling centered and complete. And then the instructor guides us to sit up with our legs stretched wide – to the far corners of our mat – and to slowly bend at our hips and bring our chest towards the floor. And I can’t. My body doesn’t have that flexibility. I simply can’t.
What I can do is hear the voice in my head. “You’ve been doing yoga for so long. Why can’t you do this? Why aren’t you more flexible?” I breathe deep, trying to breathe through this voice and not let it berate me or question my yoga.
I know yoga is not a competitive sport. I know that I’m not supposed to achieve, or try to achieve, anything in yoga. The purpose of a yoga practice, of my yoga practice, is of course to deepen my flexibility and strengthen my body. But is also to heighten my awareness of myself and the moment, and to build my ability to accept myself as I am and life as it is. To accept that fact that I have been doing yoga for so long and I still can’t bring my chest to the floor in this pose. Or my chest to my (straightened) legs in the sitting forward bend. That I’ll probably never be able to do these things. I’m just not built that way.
What strikes me is that as I longingly and jealously watch others (even though I’m not supposed to) as they flex and bend in ways that I can’t, they might just be watching me longingly and jealously as I easily work my way through all the pushups. (They’re pushups even though they call them – “high plank, low plank, high plank, low plank, high plank.”) That part is easy for me.
Why do I take for granted what is easy for me, and notice what is a challenge? Why do I pay attention what I can’t do and not what I can? Why do I even care? If I go to yoga for the mindfulness, the groundedness, and the centering, then what does it matter if my chest ever reaches – or even gets close to – the floor?
It matters not. The achievement matters not. I have been practicing yoga for a very, very, very long time. And maybe the most important part of the practice for me is to not judge, but to accept. To notice and allow. To let it be and let it be okay.
Though I’d still like to get my chest a bit closer to the ground. ☺