Yoga is Not One Size Fits All – Ever.

Via on Jan 20, 2013

Yoga Journal Conference

The saffron colored walls were a stark contrast to the wet, windy, wintery chill of the day.

Yoga began and within seven minutes we had achieved cat, cow and now our butts were touching skyward into downward dog.

I knew I was screwed.

My muscles were lukewarm and I had already met part of small zoo.

I consoled myself by saying, “It’s only an hour, and surely we’ll sit quietly and start to meditate.”

Photo c. Sarit Z. Rogers / saritphotography.com
Photo c. Sarit Z. Rogers / saritphotography.com

I was new to this mediation-yoga class. I thought it would be a great way to branch out. The class was open to all levels. I even asked, “For a true beginner?”

“Breathe though the poses,” I heard the teacher say.

I could have enjoyed several of the animals—cat, cow and even dog. But pigeon?

My pigeon was a fledgling. We tucked our legs under and back and then I fell apart in a heap of feathers.

While she introduced frog pose, I slithered off to the bathroom and sobbed. I tried to focus on my current state. What the hell just happened? My hips ached. My breath was shallow. My head was swimming. My heart was pounding.

There’s nothing worse than being taken off guard by the goddam emotion fairy. She whipped out her sparkly wand and wacked some wicked fair dust into my heart. I didn’t see it coming. I would have sincerely appreciated a little warning for those mind-body moments.

Thankfully when I reentered the room the class was still in various frog poses. I draped myself over a plum colored bolster to replicate my quasi-frog state. I imagined I was at the bottom of some silt-filled, mucky pond trying to hibernate. I willed myself to focus on everything but pigeons by planning my escape. Unfortunately, the exit was across the room and my vision was seriously blurry.

The class continued at rapid fire succession and we merged into eagle pose.

Shit, I was just a frog lying on a log.

It was a complete mystery on how we got to an eagle. My eagle didn’t leave the perch. My right shoulder was in a spasm and now my right hip was locked too. My body resembled a freakin’ question mark to compliment my dizzy thoughts.

“Is this the shoulder that’s bothering you?” She pointed at the limp flesh dangling from my side.

I obviously wasn’t going to fly.

My yes was barely audible. I didn’t bother to give her eye contact. I connected the lines on the floor and decided my mat was a lovely lily pad shade of green.

learning to leanI wished the room would swallow me.

We folded our bodies forward, fingers supposedly touching the floor. I think there was more to this pose but I couldn’t hear over the whooshing sound of blood and snot rushing through my head.

At some point we twisted our legs around and flipped-flopped back and forth. I am definitely a fish out of water.

“Come out of the pose however you like,” her voice lightly echoed.

I thought, “Is this for real?”

I don’t even know how I got here in the first place. I disengaged my bodily contortion and lied back thankful (sort of) into corpse pose. I wasn’t sure I would be able to stay quietly in a space already so full.

I craved child’s pose and a warm blanket fort.

Instead tears were the only thing warm and they streamed steadily into my ears. I was bond to get swimmers ear because I took a yoga class.

I didn’t attempt the ending Om. I let the others carry me with the sound. My muscles quivered. My heart ached. I really had to blow my nose.

What did I learned from all of this?

Yoga is not one size fits all—ever.

I did listen to my body. I modified poses. I pulled out of a downward emotional spiral and stayed with the feelings that came. I didn’t bolt out of the room. A host of feelings were visited.

I’m humbled by the experience.

Yoga challenged my heart again and it grew.

 

~

Assistant Editor: Malin Bergman

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About Carolyn Riker

Carolyn is an elementary teacher, a former mental health counselor, writer and a poet who finds comfort and balance in her kids, nature, music and her sweet cat Copper. She can be seen sipping soy lattes, nibbling on dark chocolate or savoring a full-bodied red wine. Introspective, forthright, kind and compassionate, she intertwines life with yoga, meditating and studying Vedic Astrology. She also writes for Journey of the Heart and Rebelle Society. Carolyn can be reached at Facebook.

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4 Responses to “Yoga is Not One Size Fits All – Ever.”

  1. Diane Marie says:

    That's precisely why I've never gone to a yoga class. That would have squashed me, and I would have left in worse shape than I walked in!

    • Carolyn says:

      Diane, yoga is wonderful. Others in that class did well. I wasn’t ready and I learned from it because of other classes that taught me modifications and to listen to myself. It’s all good. I tapped into a deeper side of me.

  2. Margi says:

    Too funny! You employed some great coping skills in a class billed for true beginners and meditation to boot. Seriously, good you weren’t injured.

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