I recently started taking a yoga class* and I’m finding it fascinating. There is the immediate attention grabbers, like noticing one hip is significantly tighter than the other or that my flexibility isn’t quite what I thought. And then there are the deeper attention grabbers that work on a more profound level.
There is nothing/no one to compete with.
The instructor is different from the yoga video instructors I’m used to. While she has a similar mellow, relaxing tone of voice, and she is encouraging (“Beautiful!” as we assume a widely diverse execution of downward dog poses), she is not that flexible.
I’m used to Rodney Yee and Barbara Benagh who can tie themselves in knots, with the most serene expressions on their faces as they look off into the Grand Canyon or the beaches of Antigua.
My instructor does what she can in a conference room and says, “Well, it looks like my Tree pose will be down here today,” as she places the sole of her foot against her lower calf.**
The matter-of-fact way that she accepts where her body is in that moment is refreshing, and inspiring.
We move slowly through the few poses. There is no rush, no pressure to perform a perfect or idealized form. I only notice the other students when I check to make sure that my outstretched leg won’t hit theirs.
But the true gift of the class is coming out of it calm. I’m not a zombie or in any way unconscious. I’m just relaxed. My legs aren’t in a hurry to get me to the next place, my mind isn’t racing furiously about from topic to topic.
I’m just doing the next thing.
Which feels really good.
*As in going to a live class. This is different from videos and books, oddly enough.
**Yee and Benagh would have their heels up in their crotches for Tree pose.
***Today’s Daily Stoic reading is “Calm is contagious”, and is an excellent reminder.