Yoga is supposed to be mindful and meditative. Its transformative effects are supposed to infiltrate the body, mind and spirit.
To me, that means it should touch my soul.
Sometimes, I can lose sight of this as I focus my attention on advancing my practice.
My soul must have been very sleepy the other morning because I ignored my alarm and closed my eyes instead of going to my six a.m. Vinyasa class. So unusual for me, but I felt bone tired.
My body, mind and spirit seemed to need some more time under the covers.
It was a Monday and, as always, the first workday of the week went by fast.
Once home, I signed up for the evening class to make up for the morning miss, changed into my yoga clothes, took one look at my bed and climbed back in!
I set the alarm for a 20-minute snooze and was on my mat soon thereafter.
My neighboring yogi was doing his warm ups and chatting with me as I just stood there, afraid that if I lay down, I would call it a day. I told him how tired I was but that I knew the practice would wake me up.
He told me that for him the practice removes all stress. When you are working that hard, there is just no space for anything else. After, I feel calm and peaceful.
I told him that instead of feeling calm and peaceful after my practice, I often feel completely energized. If I were a runner, I would probably run somewhere afterwards.
Any mindful and meditative part of the practice is a surprise side effect for me. It is pulling at my soul strings, but I have some resistance to that.
Lately, I seem to be feeling stuck. I want to move forward faster in my practice. I am asking my instructor how I can progress, what is next and why I cannot achieve the rocket inversions which were only recently introduced.
Your practice is very strong, is the answer I get. You need to relax about it.
That is not what I want to hear. I want to know where to tuck my elbow in order to extend from Side Crow into Fallen Angel.
I went home that night wide awake from the practice. After being so tired all day, I could not fall asleep for hours.
I know adding in some meditation would probably go a long way for me, but I have some resistance to that, too.
I do not always want to think about what yoga sometimes makes me think about. Sometimes, it is shouting at my soul to pay attention, and I think sleeping in on my practice might just be my way of covering my ears.
The transformative effects of yoga seem to come unbidden, seeping their way in, welcome or not.
They want to wake me up and keep me awake until I get it.
That night, I wondered if trying to up my practice through advancing my poses might just be my way of resisting exactly that.
If the teachings of Jewish mysticism in the Kabballah are to be believed, then we are here on earth to satisfy a soul correction.
That is a pretty big concept to contemplate, but I think yoga may be a first step in doing so.
Admittedly, the practice has made me face up to some things I long ago put aside and at which I have become an expert at avoiding. But opening up to myself in this way is maybe giving my soul some needed space.
And, if I am brave enough, maybe there is room in this new space for something more.
For now, though, I am just going to figure out where to put my elbows so that I can invert myself properly. I want to go from Crow to Fallen Angel; from Lizard to Cheek Stand, from Peacock to Chin Stand.
Hopefully, if I can get my body to do this, my soul will follow suit.
Editor: Kate Bartolotta