(And a handy lesson on self-judgement.)
You know the excitement that you feel when you dive into something new? The newness, the adrenaline, the I-have-no-idea-what-I’m-getting-myself-into-naivete. Whether it’s a job, a relationship, a new fitness activity, or a Martha Stewart arts and crafts project – the not-knowing can be sheer bliss.
I’ve been practicing some form of yoga for give or take about 15 years. I’ve gone from mainstream adaptations of yoga (did anyone else religiously do BodyFlow?), to Vinyasa, to Bikram yoga, to…nothing.
That’s right, about a year ago, I stopped, pretty much cold turkey. I was amidst some major transitions in my life and I was having some health issues that yoga actually made worse, so I put it on pause. I told myself I’d get back as soon as I could, but I didn’t.
I’ve been to less than 10 yoga classes in the last year.
While I once had very valid reasons for taking a break, it’s the getting back in that has been really confronting. I have to face that my body has changed, my fitness has changed, and that it’s not easy nor necessarily comfortable to squeeze into some lycra to put ungodly amounts of weight in my hands and expect my triceps to kick in before falling on my face.
But that’s exactly why I need to be doing it. Not to change my body, or my fitness or to be comfortable in lycra and doing some of the poses, but to face my discomfort with it. And to find a way to be kind to myself anyway.
I wanted to go on a yoga retreat and I balked.
A few months ago, I declared to one of my dearest friends (who’s a yoga instructor) that I’d be attending her retreat in Mexico in March. I also knew I’d have plenty of time to get back into the studio so that seven days of yoga wouldn’t kill me.
But I was having a hard time committing to the retreat. (And as you’ve probably noticed, I hadn’t exactly re-created my yoga class habit.) The longer I stayed away, the easier it was to intimidate myself out of returning:
- You’re lazy.
- You clearly don’t care about what your body looks like, or you’d be putting more attention on it.
- You’d rather eat potato chips and chocolate than go to a yoga class, huh?
- You’re probably of the age where you should stop showing your upper arms so much.
- You won’t be able to do that pose. You could barely do that pose when you were in good shape.
In my feelings of uncertainty, I kept myself separate. I didn’t want to face myself in a yoga studio, and I sure as hell didn’t want to face other people while I was feeling that way.
And I didn’t commit to the retreat. But I really did want to go. (I’d just talked myself out of it in order to make myself feel better for feeling like a yoga loser.)
A mini-interlude on self-judgement.
We all have moments where we feel like a loser, or like we’re screwing up, or like we suck. (Or any other negative emotion known to man.)
We think it’s having those emotions that causes separation from others. But it’s often our perception that those emotions shouldn’t be witnessed by others that causes our separation from others.
When you experience emotions that you don’t want others to witness, you withdraw. You disconnect. And then you’re left to stew in feeling like a loser, or overwhelmed, or whatever. This creates (and perpetuates) the story that you need to be positive and have your shit together in order to take up space in the world.
And that’s just not true. Staying connected when we feel those low moments is what reminds us that we’re human, it helps us sort through what we need, and we find the ways to be kinder to ourselves because we’re not letting the unrealistic expectations we have of ourselves get totally blown out of proportion.
So, I fessed up, and I committed to the retreat.
And I decided I should probably get myself to a yoga class before then. It wasn’t physically easy, but that wasn’t the hardest part. My primary job was to not make myself feel bad for doing something I knew I wanted to be doing and was good for me. I practiced kindness, understanding and patience…with myself.
At the end of class, I felt so calm, so relaxed, so not beating myself up for the poses I didn’t do well. I brought the body I had on that day, and did the best I could with it – and I didn’t let my mind have a say about whether that was good enough, because my body already knew it was true.
Best of all, I didn’t skulk out of class right away. I connected with people I hadn’t seen in a long time. (And, clearly they didn’t care one bit that my standing half moon was more like crashing maple tree.)
And now for your once in a lifetime opportunity.
If you dig yoga (even just a little bit), you dig sunny, sandy beaches, and you dig me, you’ve hit the jackpot! I’ve opened one spot in the yoga retreat for someone who’s really ready to shed the layers of self-judgement, and to find deep acceptance with who she is. We’ll do all the retreat activities together, coupled with a coaching intensive – think big transformation in a short time.
Want to know more? Get on my schedule, soon! (It’s only 2.5 weeks away, and I’m sure the spot will go quickly!) We’ll have a consultation to sort out if it’s the right thing for you right now. If it’s something we’re both excited about, we’ll spend the week together doing a whole lot of downward-facing dog. 🙂
(And if it’s not, no worries, I’ll just taunt you with photos of Mexico on social media!)