I’ve been seeing stars at yoga.
As soon as you see the floor, put your hands down!
The instructor is standing in front of me, holding my hips. My hands are in prayer at my heart.
The plan is for me to bend backwards and look for the floor, tilting over and saving myself last minute with my hands.
I think most people can probably identify a time when they’ve had to save themselves last minute. Such challenges can just be part of life, the part where you learn, the part where your head spins and you see stars.
So now I’ve been living yoga for the better part of two years, and I’ve definitely learned a lot—mostly because I started out knowing nothing.
Basic poses, advanced poses, arm balances and inversions. There are lots of challenges and, no matter how accomplished I might get, there is forever room to learn more. There is something called full expression, which is as far as a pose can go, but even once that’s accomplished, it can always be taken a little deeper.
It seems the poses that challenge me most are the ones I want most to achieve, and I want to face them head on.
I am not sure how yogic that is, to speak of achieving. We are taught about the present moment being where we are supposed to be, that we are enough for now, and that everything is already okay.
But what about challenging ourselves and striving to overcome obstacles?
And what if those obstacles happen to be a handstand in the middle of the room and dropping into a backbend from standing?
I can’t do either, but I want to, and soon! To me, it’s not enough to try, and it’s not okay to wonder whether I’m going to get there.
The floor comes at me fast, and I pop open my hands, landing them on my mat. I think I’ve done okay, but I can’t find my way back up. The instructor pulls me up and forward, doing all the heavy lifting.
Once upright, I get a head rush, and it’s an effort to listen to the instructor’s advice on how to better come up. I even see a few stars while letting the rush pass by.
Walk your hands closer to your feet and power up your legs, he says. Put all the weight in your quads and press into your feet to rise up.
Fifty years old, and this is what I have chosen as my next big challenge.
Those around me say I have another challenge. I am single. I have raised two children. I have a job. I write. I paint. And I am learning yoga.
Those around me say all that’s nice, but what about having someone in my life?
On the second try, the instructor puts a strap around my lower back, and we face each other while he holds either end.
Okay, now. Go back.
I’m going back.
Okay, just go back.
Just go back? Just go right back? Okay, I’m going back.
We have this ricochet conversation, and then I tilt back. The floor comes up fast again, and I pop open my hands, landing them once more on the mat. This time felt easier. Maybe it was my imagination, but I didn’t feel like I leaned too much into the strap.
I am still unable to lift myself back up, and the instructor hoists me to vertical again.
A second head rush. More stars.
For me, the thought of having someone in my life is a great big challenge. I have been going it alone for quite some time, but I guess I have been more open about it these days, and maybe that’s why I am getting so much encouragement in this direction, from family, friends and even those I hardly know!
Venturing out there is like tilting back with no one holding my hips. I could crash and burn.
The instructor smiles a lot. He is encouraging. He sets it up so it feels safe to go back.
I tell him I plan to nail this pose by my next birthday, five months away. It’s probably not so yogic to set a deadline, but I want this sooner than later.
For the rest of it, I don’t think I need a deadline in order to face it head on. I think maybe I’ll just set it in my sights until it feels safe enough to try.
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Ed: Brianna Bemel