"It's as if a great bird lives inside the stone of our days and since no sculptor can free it, it has to wait for the elements to wear us down, till it is free to fly." Mark Nepo

Friday, February 12, 2010


"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


colbymarshall said...

I think that's the case with everything, from a skilled "thing" like writing to an emotional thing controlling your temper (my temper!). Practice!

Angie Ledbetter said...

Yeah, true, Colby. And that's why the Nike slogan is one of the most popular in history. It resonates. (It's so late, I can't even tell if that last word is spelled correctly or not.) LOL

Elenka said...

Yours is the most honest commentary about yoga I've ever read. Worthy of being published.
I've tried it only once and was bored stiff.

Wanda said...

I'd like to wake up one morning and run a marathon...not train...just run it.

Go Mama said...

One of the greatest things about doing a yoga practice is exactly what you've discovered. That it helps you become more conscious, both in and out of the studio. It's not about the end goal, but about the process that is endlessly unfolding...as it is in life.

Jessica Nelson said...

Wow, I'm amazed at those effects! Makes me want to start stretching more. I know I should.
Great tie-in to writing too.

Suzy said...

Great book!! I purchased that a few months ago and always keep it with me.

Showing up is where it all begins.
Love the analogy to writing-
Just write.

Love you


Kristen Torres-Toro said...

What an incredible analogy.

I've only been doing yoga once a week for 7 weeks and it's definitely not my favorite thing. Too much time... sometimes boring... and not easy. But I am seeing progress. Poses I couldn't even attempt before I can hold now. That's nice! But there are still 3 I don't even attempt. I know my limits.

Thanks for this post! I needed it!

Deb said...

Great analogy. I'm still telling myself that I'm going to start a yoga program just as soon as I find a mat. Love hearing your workout trials and tribs!

Unspoken said...

I am dying to take up yoga!

fullsoulahead.com said...

Yoga and writing. What more could anyone ever want?

Carrie Wilson Link said...

Love all the connections/insights you make through your yoga AND your writing. Thanks for sharing them!

The Unbreakable Child said...

Awesome analogy. I admire your success! x0

Nancy said...

Deb, I am glad that I came here today! I have not bogged (read or written) in 6 months. I cannot put my finger on why, nor can I make myself put words through the keys at this moment, but I thought I would start back by reading brilliant bloggers for inspiration and began with Carrie, which led me to Jerri, which led me here to your post. The one I needed to read. Thank you :)

Jerri said...

Your beautiful, thoughtful posts about yoga have inspired me to start practicing again. Thank you.

Mark Lyons said...

Hmmmm...I wonder if this message was intended for someone to ponder. :)

I continue to love the connections that you make through your yoga...and life.


kario said...

The notion of practice is one that continues to come up for me lately as well. I will keep with me, always, a passage I came across in a book I was reading to help Eve with her anxiety. The author talked about the GUTI (got-used-to-it) factor; meaning that the more you do something, the easier it becomes until you hit the point where you don't think about doing it anymore - it is just part of you.

Love you!

Kathryn Magendie said...

Yes! *smiling*

(and now I want to go do some yoga.....and write .... :') ..)

Midlife Roadtripper said...

Yoga is so hard for me. I do love Julia Cameron. I do the writing practice even when I know it is junk. I wish I could get in the practice of regularly attending yoga.

How lovely is this life you have made for yourself this year.

Sandy said...

Great post and good advice. I've been trying to do some yoga at home with a cd and I've had some success. I realize I need to get to a studio if it's really going to do anything for me. You are an inspiration.