Focus Pocus.

Via Zoe Schiffer
on Mar 27, 2012
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Photo: Elsie Escobar

Generally speaking, in yoga, as in life, my time is primarily spent between the unhappy fluctuation of time-spent-comparing-myself-to-others, and time-spent-actually-living.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve tried to find a remedy. At the beginning of every class, as sinewy figures bend and stretch around me, I dutifully, stoically unroll my mat, take child’s pose and attempt to turn my focus inward, listening to my breath and body as I’ve been told to do countless times by countless teachers.

“Breathe in, breathe out,” I repeat in my head like a mantra, using the lyrical yoga voice reserved for only the most enlightened practitioners, and which I have yet to effectively imitate.

“Lets all begin standing at the top of our mats,” the teacher says in just such a voice.

I open my eyes. The girl in front of me has a really nice back. She looks quite strong. I wonder if she can do hanumanasana (the splits) and if so, will the teacher makes us do them today? Will she notice the two-inch gap between my pelvic f*cking floor and the mat that refuses to eradicate its existence from my practice and life?

Damn. Stop. Breathe, body, forward fold, chaturanga.

I bring myself back to my mat, vowing not to look in front of behind me for the remainder of the practice.

“Now as you stand folded at the top of your mat, can you bring one leg up and simply hop into handstand?” the teacher asks.

I wonder if she’s being rhetorical, but then see most everyone around me gracefully standing on his or her hands and realize I am the only one that has yet to come upside down.

Damn, damn, damn.

I kick up, and fall straight back into wheel, the only thing about handstand I have actually mastered. Can someone else please fall so I don’t look so bad? I search hopefully around the room, willing someone to eat it in solidarity. No dice.

Damnit Zoe! Stop! Was I actually just willing someone to fall?! What is wrong with me?! I am the worst yogi ever. Surely this warrants some sort of yogic purgatory or even hell, filled with lululemon knockoffs and canned, inorganic coconut water.

I drag my dejected yogless ass to the wall and come into handstand, continuing to stare morosely around me at the serene faces all focused on their respective drishtis. Tomorrow. Tomorrow I will find my true practice.


Editor: Brianna Bemel


About Zoe Schiffer

Zoe Schiffer grew up in the lush southern coast of California, where she began writing and reading voraciously at an early age. Her love of traveling has brought her all over the world, and it is a passion she still obtains, though currently tethered down in the Washington area by Seattle University, where she is in her second year. A student of yoga, she takes her practice on the road as often as possible, always trying to gain new experience (and writing material) through travel and adventure.


10 Responses to “Focus Pocus.”

  1. mccubma says:

    "Yogless"!!! Love this new word :o)

  2. Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Posted to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Yoga Editor
    Like Elephant Yoga on Facebook
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  3. vanessa says:

    Yoga's goal is found in shavansana, not fancy poses. Remembering that helps me so much I can't even put it into words.

  4. Tanya Markul says:

    Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Yoga Editor
    Like Elephant Yoga on Facebook
    Follow on Twitter

  5. zoe schiffer says:

    thanks!;) a necessary addition to the english language I believe…

  6. yogaboca says:

    Zoe, what a great post! You really show the human side of yoga!

  7. elephantjournal says:

    Love this.

  8. ¡Que Viva Zoe! says:

    Zoe, I clicked on because I remember taking some of my first "all level" classes with that exact teacher wearing that exact adorable outfit–except i don't remember her or anyone else being in what now looks like such a doable effortless preliminary pose–ever. It did seem like one class started with lotus & every pose was done in lotus, or that everyone went into a full split with no mention of how to approach it. Everything was "on" or "off." Amazing how brave & resilient we are to keep taking those leaps & crashes! I just don't have that gymnast's ability to translate/absorb by watching into my body & realize how close or far i am from what someone else is doing. Wishing for you a teacher or two who has a good eye and the skills to say more than "do_____ if that's available to you." as well as a chance to try the other 800 or so poses.

  9. Mini Yogini says:

    This is such a great post! I have been there many time before! Thank you!