Sometimes, it’s a big decision figuring out where to put my mat.
I have a favorite spot in each of the yoga classes I take.
At one studio, I like to set up on the left in the front row. At another, I like to be in the middle of the back row. At yet another, I like to line up my mat in front of one of the many windows.
I wonder what I would do if the instructors insisted on our choosing different spots each time?
As a yogi, I hear so much talk about transformation and moving in new directions. And while I think I’m doing my best to evolve and transform, I know my tendency is to find what’s comfortable and set up shop.
The other night, I was on the later side and someone was in “my spot.” So, I put my mat down a couple spaces to his right. But then I realized I was front and center, and I decided I didn’t want that. So, I got up and put my mat to his left in the space right next to him.
“Hope you don’t mind if I go here,” I said, as if my indecision needed an excuse.
But the room wasn’t as full as usual, and it felt ridiculous to be an inch away from my neighbor with so many open spaces. So, I got up yet again and moved to the second row, more to the middle.
Outside my usual spot, I felt a little out of place!
Funny how in that practice, the instructor kept talking about leaving our cocoons where things are familiar and safe.
Get out of the nest, he said. You may find comfort in there, but it’s boring in the nest! When I’m sweating and flowing and doing the poses, these words make so much sense. Of course, I think, standing on one leg and lifting the other out and back behind me in Dancer Pose.
I’m ready for lots of new things, I think while all wrapped up in Eagle Pose.
I decide this spot is not so bad after all, and I’m a bird who’s already left the nest by the time we hit the floor.
The standing part of the practice is over. We get a chance to catch our breath as we lay on our stomachs for a moment’s rest.
And I’m amazed at how quickly I pull back into myself. I know what’s coming next. It’s the part I don’t like. Backbends like Locust and Bow with our hips on the floor. And then more backbends like Camel and Wheel with our hips off the floor.
I like the standing part of the practice. I dance right through the Warrior Is and IIs, through the binds and balances, through the Triangle Poses and their reversals. This is what comes naturally to me. This is what feels familiar. This is what I find most comfortable.
For me, the seated part of the practice is the hard part. It’s like trying to find a spot when mine is already taken. I can’t quite find my groove.
It’s a challenge to straighten my arms and put the weight in my quads in the backbends. It’s a challenge to reach the ground in the splits, even when I grab hold of blocks on either side. And don’t even get me started on seated straddle, a pose for which I don’t think my body was really made.
By this time, I’m thinking I want my spot back!
But it’s kind of an illusion to think there is only one spot for one person.
And I realize now that for all the many new starts I’ve had, for all the new spots I’ve found, there will always be the need to seek out more.
When I was a little girl, I thought you just grew up, and that was that. Even as a young adult, I still held on to that belief.
Only now am I realizing that we are always leaving the nest; it’s a continuous process.
We do some abdominal work and an inversion, and then we move into the resting pose of Pigeon.
Lately, I’ve gotten pretty good at not fidgeting in Pigeon, but on this night, the instructor takes to talking about the task of making ourselves vulnerable in order to make connections.
For me, this is worse than any floor work; worse than any Backbend, Locust, Bow, Camel, or Wheel.
Because I know that doing so is the only way to leave the nest and find my next spot.
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Ed: Catherine Monkman