July 24, 2010

Cardio Freak Turned Yogi.

My first few classes, I emitted the classic cardio person warning signals to my teachers.

I got into yoga due to an injury two years ago.  Well, let’s qualify that…it was called, “I—haven’t—exercised in—God—only—knows—how—long, but—the—last—time—I—did—it—had—something—to—do—with—an—elliptical—trainer.” Always healthy, I was a team sports player in high school, turned gym rat sorority girl in college, turned career girl who ate takeout at midnight at her desk for years.
Mentally, I was trained not only to feel the burn, but to feel the pain and recognize that I must accept it as some form of self—fladulation.  After all, it was my fault that I didn’t ‘work out’ enough…so of course I should swallow the consequences, one globe-sized lump at a time, right? I should be able to pop right out and run 3 miles in 20 minutes, like when I was sixteen.  Jeeez, Demi. Jeez!
Insert deprogramming.  My first few classes, I emitted the classic cardio person warning signals to my teachers. I went in way over my head, convinced that I wasn’t a “beginner.” I competed with my neighbor (who just so happened to be a seasoned yogini—wise decision, Demi).  My judgment of the people in class, I’m sure, vibrated out my ears and into the conscious brains of those around me: ”How could he wear that, seriously? It’s 2008.” “There is no way that big girl is going to be throwing down mega poses!”  “What’s up with grandma?”
Scathing—cringing now as I write, because I was not only ignorant, but it was (after years of study, teacher training, and hard practice) my own insecurity and lack of self worth flowing through the room.  It took me to my fourth class (and lots of ice packs due to stubborn pose holding, restless mind syndrome during savasana, and internal criticism of my teachers) for my light bulb to turn on.  That’s what I call it when my “cardio friends” (whom I love dearly, they are my passion to show “the light”) come to my classes.
My light bulb moment happened during a camel pose.  It was a day that I was effective in my breathing, my flow was starting to come naturally, and I was connecting the overall dots of practice with a deeper meaning.  The moment we flowed into camel, it was like something in my heart cracked open – and all the pain, self-loathing, fear & anguish just poured right out. It was my official white flag, the moment every yogi looks for in their students (and themselves) in every practice—surrender.
From that day on, I’ve been on a journey.  I practice non—judgement, non—attachment, non—resistance and I welcome the runners, bikers, triathletes, marathoners and other cardio friends to my classes.  I continue to run and train and recently completed the London Marathon with a friend.  My window into the cardio world is a different experience for them to understand—bridging the gap between competition & mindfulness, dropping the expectations of a specific time.
In that head scratching space, they also see my light bulb—and they see me achieve my goals, wanting the same result & passion/life force.  So every time I see the nervous, darting eyes come in my class —wanting to hit the back of the room, anxious, pushing hard into poses & restless in their movement—I smile.  I can’t wait to help them find their own switch, turning on the brilliance of the light.
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