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Recently, I temporarily relocated to a city that is, at best, leisurely in the mornings.
This is a stark contrast to my previous 6:00 a.m. lifestyle in New York City. As much as I try to begin developing my own morning routine with regularity, people YOLO-ing in the streets until 4:00 a.m. frequently keep me from living my own best life, AKA getting sufficient sleep.
I have had a strong preference for morning movement for as far back as I can remember. It is important to me to move my body before moving on to other obligations. The day just flows better once I’ve taken the time. Here, I had the longest stint I’ve ever had of cobbling together 15 minutes of half-assed yoga in the mornings or nothing at all due to oversleeping after being up all night.
In New York, I had my own setup ready for activities, including a pole for my love of aerial arts. Over here, however, I do not.
Determined still to find my early bird rhythm of movement, whilst bleary-eyed, the search began. Surely, I couldn’t be the only early bird in Barcelona. Classes start at 8:00 a.m., 8:30 a.m., 9:00 a.m. There is a sports club that is open earlier if I want to run on a treadmill, but I don’t.
And then I found it. The little beacon of pre-sunrise light in a sea of late morning slumber. An Ashtanga yoga Shala.
I went through an Ashtanga phase once before, several years ago. I always appreciated the philosophy and feel it applies to life, not just the mat. While yoga stayed with me, the Ashtanga sequence did not. I was more than willing to revisit this structured practice given my need for morning activity on a consistent basis. Two things that go well with this style of yoga.
I would like to say I was up and at ‘em with excitement on the first morning, but I was, as usual, sleep-deprived. On I went anyway. While I tried my best not to botch the preset sequence, the teacher offered a helping hand. When I froze with worry and an inability to recollect the next posture, she kindly informed me of the next few.
After almost four years of pole dancing, my back muscles did not take kindly to the intense twisting of Ashtanga. After completing half the sequence, I took savasana, spent.
And then it happened. The after-practice buzz. My back felt great. My hips felt gumby-like. I felt ready to listen to Ashtanga podcasts and indulge in philosophy all day. But could I keep this up? Could I feel this positive about things down the line, on other sleep-deprived mornings?
We’ve all seen it a million times: twinkly eyes in new relationships, the excitement of signing up for a new 30-day challenge, the promise of a journey only first begun. And then, things get real. People in new relationships realize that there is a human being on the other end. They have feelings, pasts, baggage, and, perhaps, a bit of effort is required to get on with them.
We realize that tricks, poses, and flexibility are not gained immediately, and even once achieved, they differ from day to day.
Languages are not learned just because we signed up for the class. We do, in fact, have to go through a lot of trial and tribulation to make headway.
So what do we need to keep our interest?
We need honesty with ourselves.
It’s not going to be new forever, so are we willing to evolve with it?
Once the butterflies have faded, can we remain open to the habits, perspectives, and desires of a romantic interest?
Can we reap the benefits of a practice when nothing has gone the way we thought it would? Or when the person next to us executes movements flawlessly, in the way we had envisioned it for ourselves?
Will we try again tomorrow when what we attempted to say in our target language elicits a chuckle from native speakers?
Will we do as the memes say and enjoy the journey without worry of the destination?
I think it’s okay if the answer is no, as long as we have enough self-awareness to recognize it. If we want to get good at something but don’t want to put in the work, we must honestly tell ourselves that. If we haven’t faced ourselves enough to be open to another person’s humanness, then we must honestly admit, “I don’t have the stamina to continue a relationship once it is not gleaming with the promise of butterflies in my stomach forever.”
And as for me, yes. I am willing to put up with the day-to-day challenges of an Ashtanga practice…for as long as I want an early morning practice, and until I put a pole in my apartment.
Now, excuse me while I fantasize about tomorrow’s practice—until I actually have to do it.