"It may take you a few times or fourteen years to get this pose, but just doing your best will get you the full benefits."
I don't remember which pose the instructor was referring to. I'm not even sure she refers to the same pose every time, but it's always fourteen years. I don't know if I'm grateful or discouraged to hear that number.
Today, during what was a pretty yoga feeling session (as opposed to an I've-died-and-gone-to-hell feeling session), I pondered why accomplishing the pose mattered to me at all. I don't put myself through three hour and a half sessions a week to get good at poses. I'm never going to compete (yes there are yoga competitions). I find no pleasure in studying my spandex revealed fat rolls in the mirror, even if they are beginning to flatten a bit. And I have no intention of inviting friends over to show them my flexible moves - ever.
At first I went because I trusted people who went before me and swore to the amazing results. Then I went because I had paid and it would have been a huge waste of money to not go. After a while I went because of the challenge, and that's still a good part of what keeps me going back. Every small bit of progress seems like a major victory to me.
Earlier this week a P.E. teacher I used to work with came for her first class. Her body is slim, firm, shapely - as you'd expect of someone who spends her life in workout clothes. Afterwards when we connected she said, "Have you been doing this a long time? You're really good."
I didn't know whether to puff up my chest and ride her compliment all the way home, or to disclaim her right out of the studio. I had the grace to say, "Thank you." and then to quickly turn the conversation to her experience.
I'm not really good, by any standard that works for me. But I'm getting better. And I haven't had a cold in six months. And I don't fall over when I lift one foot to put my socks on any more. And the other day when I bent over to pick up one of Toby's toys I became aware that my back felt lubricated and smooth instead of the stiff ratchety pain it usually offers me when I move.
So I go back, sometimes having to force my hands not to yank the steering wheel back toward home before I arrive at the studio, because going allows me to experience my life outside of yoga more fully. And if I can trust those who have gone before me, that will only get better as I continue my practice.
I've been reading Julia Cameron's book, The Right to Write. She talks about writing every day to develop writing muscles. Not necessarily so that everything that's written is publishable or even worth reading, but so that when you're ready to write something that matters, you're in shape for it.
That's very much like yoga practice. Now I love writing in a way I don't love yoga, but it's one of those immutable laws of life. To get better at a thing, you have to practice. And although the practice part is not the pretty part, there's no way to get to the good stuff without practicing.
I'm guessing this isn't great insight to most of you visiting me here. It's certainly nothing I haven't heard/read/experienced before. I think what's reinforced for me with the yoga/writing connection is that showing up every day (or three days a week) counts in a big way. That being present, trusting the process, and focusing on whatever best is available to me at any given time is an abundance of sufficiency. Good enough for a full life of feeling deeply day by day, day to day.
photos from Flickr