The accidental yogi
It’s not a competition
After three months of practice (admittedly I still haven’t quite reached my target of four to five classes per week like I declared last month) at Hot Yoga Ibiza, I find myself wondering if I will EVER be able to master this thing called yoga. It’s not a competition, says everything ever written about yoga in the history of yoga. Of course, I KNOW this… but I can’t help wondering if the people doing the writing are those who possess a natural flexibility and bendiness that I am yet to gain.
The thing is, I thought I was doing pretty well at yoga. When I’m in the middle of a standing bow, I feel like I am so graceful, that my hips are aligned, that I look somewhat like a prima ballerina in the middle of a performance as my toe reaches for the ceiling above. When I’m coiling about during the cobra series, I feel as lithe and curved as a snake. When my palms settle in prayer position in the tree pose, I feel like I am the epitome of balance, poise and zen. And let me tell you, I am amazing at Savasana…
But the reality is a little different.
You see, for the past three months, I’ve been attending Warm Hatha Yoga classes, CORE 40 sessions and even the occasional Ashtanga Vinyasa Flow practice, where you face the white wall of the studio for the duration of the class. Then last week, due to a busy schedule, I found it impossible to make it to one of these classes. And because you know, I’m such a dedicated yogi these days, I decided to attend a Hot Yoga class to make sure I didn’t skip my practice (more on that next month).
The biggest difference – give or take a few degrees – I noticed during the class was the way my mind responded to practicing while looking in the mirror. Why? Because it turned out that I am still an ugly duckling when it comes to my practice, not a graceful swan like I had previously thought. And one of the undeniable truths I have learnt in my lifetime is that the mirror does not lie.
During standing bow, my left and right legs are going in two totally different directions, my arm is shaky and my toe isn’t even anywhere near my head, let alone the ceiling. During cobra, I look like I’m drowning and my head is bobbing up and gasping for air – no spinal curvature to be seen. As for tree pose – I’m wonky, wobbling and my foot is sliding down my calf in seconds. And Savasana… well, I can’t actually tell you about the reality of that one, as I can’t see myself in the mirror while I’m lying down, but I’m probably doing that wrong too.
The only thing that looked good during my practice was my leopard print yoga pants!
Sebastien tells me not to worry. No one is judging me. That I’m not doing it wrong. To practice non-attachment. That my body is changing with every class. To stop thinking. Not to listen to my ego. That it doesn’t matter how far into a pose I can get, as long as I give my best. That asanas are just one part of the practice. I can’t help but be reminded of that childhood mantra: it doesn’t matter if you win or lose, it’s how you play the game. To be honest, I always hated it when someone said that to me. If I wasn’t going to win, I wasn’t going to play. I was that kind of kid. Am I that kind of grown up too?
As I am once again reminded in every single yoga blog and book I come across – yoga isn’t about winning. It’s not a competition. But still I feel torn. I not-so-secretly DO want to win at yoga. I want to nail my practice. I want to go back to my former vision of myself, before that mirror mirror on the wall told me I wasn’t the fairest of them all. I mean, it’s not like I want to bring my iPhone into the studio and take a selfie of my picture perfect Savasana and awesome leopard print pants, but I do want to be able to touch my toes without bending my knees, to wrap my arm behind my knee during a spinal twist and to do a headstand without fear of crashing into the person next to me causing a domino effect during class.
Is a less-than pure motivation like mine better than no motivation at all? All I know is that as long as I turn up to class, I’ll be better off than if I stay home – mentally, physically and spiritually. And I guess, in the hashtag sense of the word, that means I’m totally #winning.