August 19, 2011

When Yoga is not like Sex. And when it is like Sex.

So I took a class the other day that I really hated.

I mean, really, I hated it. The poses were boring, the music was boring, I was bored, and I think even the teacher was bored.

And this is not one of those stories where I do something hard and face my challenges and become a better person for it. I think there’s a place for that, and I’ve had classes where I’ve struggled and reached breakthrough. Boredom, too, has its place: often it’s your brain avoiding dealing with something that should probably be dealt with and trying to get you out of any situation in which you might have to be alone with your thoughts. But in this particular case, I did not breathe into my discomfort and wait for messages from God. I just stuck with it, and hated every minute, beginning to end. And I left in pain–my body and I gossiped about how much we hated that class for about 24 hours.

Of course, the class itself was fine. Good even, I bet, considering the yogini on the mat next to me who started snoring in savasana.

Thing is, it just wasn’t for me. I’ve been doing this long enough now to know what I love: moving, grooving, good music, challenging vinyasas, and anything that makes me connect to the lover’s dance between me and the breath. I hold out my hand, the breath takes me, and leads me all over the room until I’m flat on my back in pure [yogic] bliss. Right?

And I love a good long hold or two, I like my boundaries pushed, but later in the class when my body is warm and willing (there’s something to be said for foreplay). I want to play, I want to celebrate, I want to work out some anger, I want to heal my bones and breathe into my belly, I want to listen to someone, I want to feel cared for, I want to feel intimacy with my breath and my body and my community, I want my yoga to feel like mine.

And there is something sexy about that: about exploring your body, having sensual experience, being able to become quiet in your mind (which for me is a herculean effort) and hear what your body is trying to say. It’s making love, really, always surprising, beautiful, new, and steams up the seals of my relationship with my body, making them stronger and more intimate every time.

And this class was not that, for me. It might have been for the snorer next to me–maybe she makes love real slow, and holds the postures for a really long time, letting her breath get her deeper into where she wants to go. That’s sexy too, probably, for her. ahem.

So as we moved through Sun A, Sun B, warrior 2, triangle, other side, blah, blah, blah, it felt like making love with fluorescent lights on, or doing it with one eye on the digital clock by the bed, leaving me looking down at my pedicure-deprived padas and thinking, Man, why am I doing this?

When I do yoga, I do it because I love it. Because it makes me feel more like me. Because I’m in love, and the challenging parts just make it even better, even sweeter, more passionate, and give me something to learn from. I do it because I am an ex-anorexic ex-weakling and yoga makes me want to eat meat and potatoes, because I want to feel love for myself so I have more for the world around me, because I am a sensation seeker and always will be, because I am alive and I want to be that on my mat, because I want to, not because I have to. And yes, that makes me a non-traditional yogi, just in case anyone was still wondering.

So this class that I hated was, in the end, awesome, because I hated it. It reminded me of who I am because it was a great example of who I’m just not. It asked me, why I would do something hard and boring when they aren’t enhancing my life or changing anything for the better [or at all]? It asked me, what am I waiting for?

Well, I had to wait for my hamstrings to heal a little after the beating they took before I could get back on the mat. But in the meantime, I made this awesome playlist full of music that I don’t think is yoga “appropriate” but that really turns me on. This is a playlist I would make love to, and I played it for my students the next day in class. I loved it, and they loved it, I think. And if they didn’t, well, I know a class they could try.

So the next time you find yourself doing something you hate, maybe think less about pushing through and forcing yourself to do it because you think you have to, and just ask yourself a really simple, but fundamental question: why am I doing this?

If you don’t have a good answer, stop. Back off, change something (put your pants back on) and chalk it up to experience. At least you know one thing now: you don’t have to do that again.


Here’s the playlist, in case you were wondering: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2011/08/that-sexy-yoga-playlist/

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