There is a fine line between riding what is hard and making things harder for ourselves.
Today, I walked out of a yoga class for the first time ever. Mind you, I’m the kind of person who took an Open level class as my introduction to yoga and was fine with it. I’m an athlete. I’m aware of my body. And now, seven years after that first class I’m a yoga teacher. I found my dharma. And, today, I actually really listened to my self. Not just my body but my whole self.
I am also absolutely aware that my choice of class, for my Practice, on this day, was not the best one. That onus is on me. What I wanted to do was practice at home. But seeing as how today was the day that my husband was moving out – that was not possible. He was gathering his things. The kids were running around. I didn’t know how to manage what he needed, what they needed and what I needed. I thought it was best if I left and gave them time to be together. I knew I needed to move my body and be present with myself and also Sit and meditate. My sangha did not have a class available. So, I went to a Bikram class. I’ll sweat, I thought. And go deep.
It was too much.
I like to sweat, trust me. I’m also a competitive kickboxer. I sweat hard. I train hard. For hours. I teach people to sweat. And I teach them to be able to sit with it when it’s uncomfortable. But, it was this one defining moment…when the teacher said, “This may be the hardest thing you do all week and you will learn from it.” Well, that may be true. For some people. And that may have been true for me at another time. But what I was dealing with was already hard. It was also only three months to the day that my sister died. And I had just left my mother’s house that morning where my sister’s room was still as it was and her pictures where everywhere and my mother’s grief was as heavy in the house as it was upon her shoulders which were once thrown back proudly but now drawn forward in pain.
It was too much.
It was not the asanas. Nor the people in the room. Nor the teacher, whom even though I was not particularly fond of her rapid fire missives to “Draw your belly in, strengthen your legs, do it until it hurts” because I tried to learn from her, I always try to learn…It was my own inner voice which said, simply “No.” and also “I’ll try” I wanted to Try because I knew I could do it. I could ride the uncomfortable heat, the suffocating draw at my throat, which wanted fresh air. I was aware that my head swam because I rose too quickly from a pose. And I could slow and still until I was grounded again. That wasn’t so much of the problem. The problem was that instead flowing or slowing as I needed I was feeling claustrophobic. Perhaps this is a metaphor for my current stage – the weight of everything on my chest, my heart center. I needed to Open. And, the problem was that I did not need to prove myself. To anyone and most importantly me. And what I was doing was not giving myself what I needed. I did not need to push. I have pushed. I have ridden pain…many times. When I was giving birth to both my children I rode that exquisiteness for them and me, because it was a gift to them to have them come into the world without any drugs in their body. And with each difficult moment I have tried to ride it and allow it with as much grace as possible because I know it all changes but I also know that we need, I need, to give some reprieve to myself. And so, “No.”
A Restorative class would have been much better.
I had way too much shit going on and that particular style of yoga wasn’t suiting me at that particular time. Too often we do not allow ourselves the grace of saying “No”. I don’t need this. This is not good for me Right Now. The awareness to say No comes from also having pushed ourselves not to a limit but beyond what we thought we were capable of and realizing that we are capable of so much more than we knew. And also of knowing that there is a fine line between riding what is hard and making things harder for ourselves.
Today I learned that line and I am grateful.
I left the class one hour into it. Took a shower and came home. Came home to an empty home. The kids are with my ex-husband. That is what he needs. That is what they need. I did what I needed for myself. And in learning more about myself can now give them, all of them, more of what they need.
Gina de la Chesnaye is a contributing writer, photographer and Meditation Blogger for YogaCityNYC as well as a Yoga Instructor and Competitive Kickboxer. This fall she will be teaching a Liquid Steel class at Alison West’s new Yoga Union Studio in Manhattan which utilizes asana and strength training with mindfulness. Her photography can be viewed here.