Its raining. I swear its raining.
I mean meditation has now been taken to the next level because I’ve made it start raining in here.
Oh. Wait. Nope. That’s just the sweat dripping off me onto my mat. My poor mat. The things my mat has gone through over the past couple weeks… unthinkable.
You see I’ve been giving Yoga another damn good crack in recent weeks, inspired by Cosmic Yoga Studio’s 21 day challenge.
It’s been an interesting experience, not because I’ve never done yoga before, but because I feel like there’s a little bid riding on this foray. You’ve got the social media accountability aspect for 1. Damn Instagram I love you but hate you at the same time. But there’s more too. For instance there’s this sneaky little chalkboard at the studio which is clocking up the 21 day challenge, allowing fellow yogis to follow each other’s results (1 session equals 1 tick sort of thing), and its weird because the first day I walked in I swear there were people who had already clocked up like 5 sessions come the end of day 1.
What am I missing here? I can barely hold a downward dog for an entire session, let alone holding multiple postures of the canine variety for 5 sessions per day.
But it’s weird, & paradoxical, because as soon as you lay down in class you realise that Yoga, and the experience of yoga is one of the most non-judgemental phenomenons you’ll ever go through. I remember my friend Jules in San Diego & I had a conversation about my Yoga-ing experiences. And I am paraphrasing here but it went something like this.
“I’m so bad at yoga.”
“You can’t be bad at yoga.”
“What do you mean?”
“It’s just yoga. Once you’re there, on the mat, you’ve already done your job & you’re great at yoga.”
Pretty simple. And pretty bloody nice to be honest. In a world where we are constantly stuck in comparisons its quite a relief to just go with the flow (pun intended), struggle a little bit, shake more than is acceptable in a drawn out warrior one, sweat a little more than is natural or remotely attractive, and leave more red faced than the beetroot dip you’re about to eat.
Sometimes to be humbled by an activity is just what we need. I think probably the most humbling experience was trying to figure out one of my teacher’s instructions…
“Lift your body but at the same time don’t lift…”
Amidst my confusion I looked around the class to see if anyone felt the same way… apparently not. Everyone looks as graceful as a flamingo but here I am trying to lift without lifting; it’s not pretty. I ponder,
“Hmmm…. I know… Child’s pose.”
Child’s pose is the answer to everything. All your problems will be fixed my child’s pose. Sounds a bit silly. & I suppose it is but really, if you think about it, child’s pose is just having a rest. Reflecting on what just happened, whether you just slipped on your own sweat trying to flow through a handstand or whether you just had a bad day at work, is a really good thing to do. Child’s pose is about perspective. It’s about knowing yourself well enough to say, hang on, I’m just going to think on that for a second, I’m going to evaluate things, ponder the ups & downs, consider my options, breathe, & make the next move. I don’t think we do this enough – we’re so locked in to today’s fast-paced world that we feel guilty or nervous about taking child’s pose…
Anyway, so a revelation hits me, and all of a sudden I’m lifting without lifting like the best of ’em. The teacher spins off in her French accent,
“Afwaai leeeefttt (halfway lift),” & I feel like an exalted warrior (or maybe this is another pose).
“Streeetch troooo de aaarrrtt (stretch through the heart),” & I feel like the stretchy guy from Fantastic 4.
“Ectivayt your glut (activate your gluteus maximus),” & I swear I’m so bootylicious right now.
Some part of me just wants the teacher to come over & say,
“Hey Kale you’re doing a really good job.”
“Why thank you,” I would say humbly…graciously, “but so is everyone else.”
The teacher doesn’t. But that’s okay. Everything is okay on my yoga mat. Well, everything but the 400 degree heat we’ve created in the room. I mean, in the middle of winter the terms ‘hot yoga’ sound quite appealing paired together on Cosmic‘s timetable, but 40 minutes into every class I’m lying there begging my mat for someone to just please open a door or for pete’s sake set up a little fan next to me. At that point I think that even a butterfly fluttering its wings past me might create some sort of windy relief. I’ve taken to not wearing shirts in yoga, not to show off my somewhat lacking yoga body but to avoid passing out on the floor (more often that is) through heat exhaustion.
It results in some pretty self-concious moments. You tip toe into the studio hoping nobody sees you, you lie down on the mat & there’s that suspiciously close-to-a-fart squelch sound as you lie on the mat and all of a sudden everybody is looking at you. With your shirt off. Lying there. Farting (their eyes are certain of this). Even the guys are looking at you & even if they’re not actually thinking it you swear they’re judging you for having a shirt off. But I mean I’m judging them right back because their wife-beaters are by the middle of class drooping well below the nip line, they may as well be shirtless like me. It would sort of even out the plane a little bit if we had some sort of male shirtless agreement going on.
That’s better. The judgement is gone. And everybody smiles at each other now. Shirt or no shirt. Yoga doesn’t judge, & that’s what I love about it.
Classes rise in this wonderful crescendo of intensity & complexity, followed by those beautiful words everybody gets to know really quickly; Your Final Savasana. We lie down on the mat, panting like an exhausted puppy. Vulnerable, relaxed, yoga-stoned.
The class itself is kind of reflective of its focus; the breath. We build up through slow, calm exercises just like we initiate the breath through the nose into the belly. We go through a faster, intense flow during the middle just like as we approach the zenith of our inhale. We strike some serious bodily & mental resistance as we struggle to hold those super tricky poses and flow in the middle, just like when our belly is finally full. And then we begin to let the breath out with our final series of slower, calmer, restorative poses leading all the way to that wonderful final savasana, as the breath is totally exhaled.
I’m now lying on my mat. It’s not actually raining. It’s just my sweat. My mind begins to wander & think about how I’ve gotta’ rush to the shower before anyone else gets there, so I can start warm & finish cold & get home for dins. But something stops me from thinking it. Its yoga. It’s the ‘now’, or mindfulness, or god or whatever you wana’ call it. Something in my mind just says, hang on, it’s okay. Just be here. This is your child’s pose. You are allowed to be here, you are in the right place, everything is as it’s meant to be…
Now, go and change the world.
That’s why I like yoga.
I’m doing a Kombucha Class at Cosmic Yoga in October, come & check it out!