Where do I begin…?
So there are a few reasons why I became a home practitioner in the month of November. The first being my hours of work. I suddenly took on a huge overhaul of work in the yoga field and I didn’t really know how to handle my time. I started teaching 9 classes a week at 5 different locations and that doesn’t include subbing. I also began teaching yoga at a small private school on Mondays and Tuesdays in the place of gym. To top the whole thing off I did not, and still do not have a fully functional car.
In August, I started going to 5am yoga at the Shala. The road I live on has no sidewalks or streetlights; it’s also 3 miles from the nearest bus stop. Even then, I like about 1 hour and 40 minutes from the Shala by bus. I used to walk, in the dark, at 4 in the morning so I could catch the bus. Then I would take the 14, the T, and the 91 in order to get to the Shala early enough to have a full practice. The total travel time was 2 hours and 20 minutes.
I know this is enough alone to be a good excuse. But I’m pretty hard on myself. If I don’t go to the Shala to practice I feel like I’m doing myself a disservice. Not to mention that this was around the time that everyone in my Instagram feed decided to talk about daily routine. Walking in the dark made me feel alone. And sharing my routine made me feel alone. I was exhausted daily.
Later, in mid-September, my family had a car returned to us that the mechanic had been working on for quite some time. The car functions well, but over-heats after 6 miles or so of consistent driving (I laughed audibly when writing this). 6 miles was and still is more than enough for my needs. You can imagine how elated I was to hear that I had my own personal car to drive down to the bus stop instead of walk. This cut my travel time by 40 minutes. So it’s better.
I’m not telling you all this to make you feel bad for me. I’m sharing this to explain how badly I wanted to practice. The community is so incredibly important to me. Going to the Shala to build a relationship with the community and get my practice in meant so much. But it was hard.
I was traveling a very long distance, I rarely got to see the community I so badly wanted to be a part of and my practice wasn’t progressing. It was discouraging to put so much work into going to work (practice yoga), that my practice at the Shala started to dissipate.
I ‘ve been practicing Primary series for a long time. Two years to be exact. At first, it was okay, but I’d be dishonest if I said it didn’t bother me. I watch as my good friend flew by me in her practice. I say other yogi’s practicing secondary doing poses that I knew my body could do. And my emotion and mental practice suffered from this before it benefitted. Unfortunately, I spent a lot of time telling myself that I wasn’t good enough because I couldn’t make it through the first sequence. And I think I may have slipped into depression. The kind of depression where you feel it constantly but you can’t tell why your upset.
Getting up after the alarm was hard. I developed anxiety attached to the alarm on my phone (and anyone else’s alarm that happens to make the same sound at a coffee shop). Every time I hear it a wave of fatigue rolls over me and I start telling myself over and over in my head that I’m worthless if I don’t practice yoga.
November came around and my membership ran out. Not to mention said work rolled in. I started practicing before or after classes at the studios I taught at depending on convenience, but practicing during the day sucks because you have to time it just right between meals. My practice became less frequent still…
…Today is January 8th, 2018. It’s my first day back to the Shala since November when I started home practice. I woke up at 4am this morning to shower, dress, and drink water. No breakfast. My routine does not call for it. I drive down to the bus stop, park the car, and continue my journey by bus.
When I arrive, I am pleasantly surprised to see Ryan teaching. I ran into him on the train one day in December. He looks surprised to see me as well and goes to shake my hand.
“It’s good to see you”
“Good to see you too.”
I unroll my mat, Say hello to my neighbor and begin. This particular practice, I remember feeling the presence of the room. I can feel the mantra soften vibrations. I can feel the breath and sweat hanging heavy in the stale air. I can feel the power of the community. And I can feel my heart. I am present. And I am giving again.
I make it through the practice with minimal issues. I stand for back-bending, and Ryan walks over to me and gives me a confused look.
“All you not practicing full primary?”
“No. I stop at Supta Konasana.”
“okay. You need to be practicing full primary. It’s only going to help your hips. You don’t need to perfect this pose before moving on.”
“That would be awesome!”
“Yeah, So when you come in on Wednesday, we’ll go over the whole thing together. Okay?”
I knew the tears were coming when we started the conversation. It wasn’t sadness or happiness. I’d be hard pressed to attach an emotion to the feeling. Perhaps, I can describe it as a sensation. One that permeated my whole body and made me quake with energy. I felt such a ridiculous frequency resonating through my bones I could never describe it with words.
The only other time I’ve felt something this intimate is this one time at the end of my first nine days of Yoga Teacher Training (I must still have that written down somewhere). We were all exhausted and we were all emotional. Our teacher made us do an activity that was deeply shattering and healing and amazing.
It’s moments like these that realize why I want to practice and teach yoga as much as possible. I want to give. I want this resonation impact or harmonize with others. I want to give.
It’s so easy to say that yoga isn’t about the poses when you have all of them. When you can float effortlessly in and out of handstands, when you can gracefully take on over splits, when you know you can get your feet behind your head, it’s easy to say that yoga isn’t about the poses.
When you don’t have the poses. When you don’t understand how to get your body into the asana, there’s a certain emotional dissatisfaction that impacts whatever part of your mind that controls competency. You feel inadequate. Sometimes it manifests in self body-image, other times in anger or being upset. For me, it was an emotion manifestation that made me unable to see myself as a “good yogi” (whatever the heck that means).
It is not easy to look into the postures. It is not easy to take each posture it is. It requires constant reminders. It requires perseverance, and it requires an open heart and mind. I’m sorry to say, but you may not understand this even after reading this. I’m not sure I completely do. It will take years of practice to recognize this simple truth.
The poses ain’t all that.