Ballad of the Grumpy Yoga Beginner.

Via Katrina Kunstmannon Aug 31, 2013

I want to split myself open and let all the screaming seething inside me rip the sky asunder.

My burgeoning inner yogi is inclined to say this is an excellent time to approach my (unfortunately) much cat-clawed yoga exercise mat. Or is it the opposite?  Should one refrain from spiritual contortion and release when they are so filled with acid ire that they could sear a hole in the moon? Such are the conundrums one wrestles with when one learns yoga from books and videos; no living, breathing yogi to illuminate the way.

I don’t want to.
I just want to sit in my miserable mire of passion gone acrid, personal fire turned inferno by hot igniting winds, blown in by wrapping an innocuous piece of tape around my body and ascertaining how much its shape had fluxed, after my normatively solitary morning was beleaguered with the chattering of others.
Oh it had fluxed alright, fluxed to a number greater than before.
Nominal, perhaps. But still greater.
And greater in the area I want most badly to diminish.

My day derailed off the cliff of disgruntlement and plummeted into the canyon of cranky, nasty, revile-some anger, sliding down a fully greased, frictionless downward spiral that ended in hate city. My rage was spurred forward as I bitterly brought my camera along on my daily morning walk. My significant other wanted photos of the elk that roam with unimpeded freedom through the land about my rural mountain hovel. Alas, this is something I am remiss to do as it is, for me, akin to bringing all the world with me in my pocket—my mind buzzing with all the potential responses—or lack thereof—from friends and family to the moments I capture, in this digital age with its relentless invasiveness.

No matter how beautiful the moment, how majestic the view, everything was wrong.
Tainted.
Gone Sour.
Poised with my toxic passion.

This rough side of passion, the raw side of passion, the part of me that loves to hate, is usually kept quiet beneath the shackles of all my loved creative pursuits which bleed off all this hot energy surging under my skin. This is the passion my illusory self is fearful of losing through yoga—this rough, raw, haggard, baleful beast that stalks in the shadows of my mind and wants to rip out through my skin and raze the world to utter desolation.

Yoga terrifies this beast, and thus yoga terrifies me, and this beast bars my brain from fully embracing the arduous task of calmly centered self confrontation—focusing more on the physical rigors, rather than the mental maze to self realization yoga purportedly paces one through.

My first mirco breakthrough happened about a week ago, as I attempted some briskly reviewed yoga poses in lieu of my workout routine, which at my trainers behest includes now yoga.

I tried.
I failed.

I looked over the poses I felt capable of—blessed with joints elastic and supple spine (unknowgingly engaging in yoga my whole life by assuming supported shoulder stands and back bends just because they felt good, for kicks) though woefully lacking in forward foldability, stamina or strength. Mine eye spotted the elegant Half-Pigeon Pose, one which would hopefully open the tightness in my squat strained booty.

I attempted.
I pushed.
I strained.

It didn’t feel right.
Nothing felt right.

Augh.
God.
Why.
Hnnnnghhhh. (One last-ditch attempt.)

I gave up and collapsed forward, my face pressed in awkward repose, half smushed to the mat, half burrowed in my dusty brown carpet, arms splayed limply before me.

I broke.
I surrendered.
I flopped inert.
I sobbed; tears threatening to slip from my lashes.

Oh.
Oh hey.
That…that feels good back there, somehow.
Hey. Hey, oh hey! Holy damn.
Maybe there’s something to this after all.

These moments of wordless opening and release, freeing and unpinning some formless tension of self, where things in my mind click together and go, are as rare as they are momentous, and worth their weight in gold for precisely this reason. Yoga still baffles me, and hurts a lot both inside and out, most probably because I still have yet to master the art of breathing through my being, through no fault but my own impatient self.

Yoga still scares me. Scares me in that I am afraid that my passion will be drained away into the endless calm of OM. This seeming perma-zen that I observe in so many books and journals. I thrive in the storms of life, big and small. As a writer they are invaluable for comprehending the human condition and enriching the imagination with the wonderful absurdities of existence. All the raucous ups and downs of my passion are critical to capturing spanses of evocative narrative.

I am scared to lose that.
Deep down I know that this is not true.

It is only me that surrenders my passion, or allows it to shift so self-necrotic.
But fear can be hard to let go of.

Power of the self can be hard to accept, to understand.

Last night I had another, mountainous molehill of an achievement when at last through a very patient online tutorial (for those like me with hamstrings of concrete and lower-backs of lead) I discovered the blessed relief which Downward-Facing Dog pose is to bring through the stunted half house of Puppy Pose.

I finally got it.
I felt so good.
I was no longer a crab with a car battery up its ass.

I almost cried, smiling as I stared in my glowing face in the mirror, which I had used to ensure my back was indeed smooth and my shoulders spread, weight hovering over my hips and my palms pressed and my heart melted to the floor.

Sweet unholy motherfucking wow.
This is some good shit.

I’ve been avoiding the spongy, lime-green expanse of my mat for a good hour or so since returning from my grump parade through the mountains, scrabbling down these thoughts; these modicum revelations and self confrontations I see brewing on the horizon of my future.

So yoga scares me, confuses me, and breaks me—makes me feel small and weak as my extremities shake to hold these insane poses and yet— I know these bio-body-soul designs were made to sling me higher, to break down and rebuild and vault myself aloft.

Even though I’m not yet down with Downward-Facing Dog, I’m dragging my curmudgeonly ass to the floor, and rolling out my mat anyway.

Diving into that bumpy flow, no matter how many rocks I knock my noggin on before that self immolating demon finally cools its heels in the river and gives my brilliant passion back to me.

Like elephant yoga on Facebook.

Ed: Sara Crolick

{photo: Robert Bejil on Wikimeda Common}

 

About Katrina Kunstmann

Katrina Kunstmann  is vegetarian and hides from the high noon sun and is constantly praying for thunderstorms. She has itchy soles and wants to get back to Europe, where her heart resides in London and Berlin. Alas, California is her birthplace and home—for now. She travels as often as possible and dreams of throwing all her responsibilities in the sea and living out the rest of her life on the road. She is woefully addicted to creativity. She writes, draws, sculpts, and paints. She has a degree in screenwriting but isn’t sure when she’ll get back to it. If you are possessed to do so, you can find her visual art on her Krop Portfolio, and smatterings of her writings, art-stuffs and other bizarrities on her Tumblr. She has a Facebook profile, but suspects the entire site may have contracted a venereal disease.

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6 Responses to “Ballad of the Grumpy Yoga Beginner.”

  1. Annabel says:

    Awesome! Thank you

  2. Stephany says:

    Wonderfully written article. The fear many actually have when it comes to the idea of practicing yoga, the fear of not being good enough or able to get the poses down, is acknowledged here and I think that is great. It's funny how so many are hesitant to attempt the practice of yoga, instead of taking a lighthearted approach to it. You clearly state your own experience with this, but you also shine light to the fact that there is something deeper behind the meaning of yoga that one should be excited to learn about, not fear!

    • Katrina Kunstmann Katrina Kunstmann says:

      Absolutely! Yoga, when able to achieve it's full potential is wondrously calming and invigorating, as I have come to find. It takes practice and an unconsciously conscious willingness to let go which I have still yet to master. More advanced poses still intimidate me, like a water slide viewed from the kiddie pool. I'm excited but anxiety is not absent either. Slowly, layer by layer I'm peeling that away as I practice more. As long as I allow myself to let go and don't hurt myself, I'm having fun.

  3. Yogini says:

    Great article. I cursed my way through my yoga class yesterday. I had taken a break for a few weeks so I was not as limber as I had been when I was practicing daily. In the midst of all the internal babble, I found myself floating during triangle pose. Everything just felt right in that moment, and it reminded me why I return to my mat as often as possible. It cracks me open and keeps me honest with my true self.

    • Katrina Kunstmann Katrina Kunstmann says:

      "It cracks me open and keeps me honest with my true self." :> I couldn't agree more, and so evocatively worded as well! And for me that sort of elevated homeostasis of being, that balanced rightness, which I am experiencing more and more has become extremely vital to my health and productivity. I can still experience the tumult of life and find calm yogic bliss. When I can manage anyhow! :>

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