Sometimes I have a bad yoga day.
I have been practicing yoga on and off for about five years now. I realize if my practice was more regular I would most likely see improvements sooner, but being a working mom I get there when I can.
When I first started going, I found I was extremely tight all over, and while I have made some strides in flexibility, there are days when I feel like I am back to that very first class.
Yesterday was one of those days.
It started out that I didn’t get there as early as I would like. Early arrivers get their coveted spots, and my favorite spot is near a wall. I am not as steady in balance poses as I would like to be so the wall is my comfort zone. Of course yesterday, there were only middle of the room and up in the front spots left when I arrived.
Thankfully, yoga has taught me to accept discomfort on some level, so I don’t stress on this too much.
Class starts and we are focusing on forward bends. My hamstrings are like ropes left in the sun so I know I have a challenge set before me. (Of course, yoga is always a challenge.)
With my trusty wooden blocks nearby we start in Uttanasana (standing forward bend) after child’s pose and downward dog. The back of my legs complain in protest and I close my eyes trying to let them release. My body responds with a slow burning pain that reaches from my sacrum down to the back of my heels. I breathe through the sensation, let up slightly and then reach back toward my blocks.
Next we go into Parsvottanasana (Intense side stretch or Pyramid pose) with bricks and a concave back. Leaning down and looking forward, I know I need to pull both hips straight, but my body says otherwise and my my heel raises up off the floor.
My instructor comes around to adjust me and attempts to gently straighten my hips, but I’m made of stone and nothing will budge.
After a series of poses, my teacher instructs us in Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana (standing big toe pose). “Now some of you may choose to stand near a wall for this pose,” she says. I find a spot near the wall.
I hate this pose.
It hurts to hold my big toe because of the structure of my foot. I spent the earlier part of my childhood in dance classes and was an avid toe walker. Looping my fingers around my first few toes I stretch my leg out in hopes that it will straighten. Of course, with my rigid hamstrings and crooked toes, I form some sort of half-awkward asana with a strained face—at least I have the wall.
Nearing the end of class, right before Savasana, we use a bolster against the wall with two blankets piled on top to prop our hips onto and climb our legs up the wall. I feel a deep sigh crawling up inside me, as I also hate this pose.
This time, it’s not because of my hamstrings, but I struggle to get in to it. I push my props close to the wall, crouch to the side, position my self as close as possible, sit on the bolster and try to rock my hips slowly down and lie back.
Except I fall off. Looking to my left I see the woman next to me perched perfectly on her bolster, arms outstretched, eyes closed and a peaceful look on her face. Sigh. I try again. Fail.
This time, while lying on the ground I shimmy as close to the bolster as possible and lift my hips up, legs in the air I use my arms to push my body close to the wall. I don’t quite have it, but close enough. My teacher says nothing. I think she has given up on me for the day. That’s okay—I have too.
Finally, it’s time for Savasana.
I slide off the bolster (this I can do) and leave my crossed legs resting on it. My hips and groin protest slightly, but they are too weary to complain too much.
After a few minutes of internal mental chatter, I roll to my side and sit up, hands in prayer in front of me. I bow my head. “Namaste.”
It was a bad yoga day.
I felt like I struggled in every pose, wrestling both mentally and physically—except I don’t feel defeated or down.
I walk out of class, knowing I made it through class and in that class I learned to be okay with struggle.
I learned I can be strong in the face of imbalance. I can get back up after I fall. And even during times when I cannot bend, I will not break.
So I will come back and try again.
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Ed: Bryonie Wise