July Feature: Once More, With Feeling

Emotional July

I’m approaching the final stretch of my every-day-in-July yoga challenge, and this week definitely felt more like the ‘one step back’ after ‘two steps forward’. Last week I imparted just a few nuggets of knowledge that I’ve picked up along my yogic journey. This week, in some bizarre pseudo-teenage rebellious act, I decided to completely ignore nearly everything I’d said.

Having A Sense Of Déja Vu

It was Saturday night when no heed was paid to Lesson One: Don’t Drink and Downward Dog. I made the effort and went in on Sunday morning, but lasted roughly 30 minutes of the class – in which I nearly fell flat on my ass on several occasions. It was a class I’d done before and liked, but this time it was uncomfortable. All my body wanted to do was fill itself with unhealthy food and curl up in a ball. Not a good headspace for a yoga class. Fool me once…

Just a few days after Lesson Two (Listen To Your Body) went down the metaphoric toilet. I’d just had a particularly frustrating class — I’d started nice and calm, then someone came in late, plonked down their mat mighty close to me, and that was my mind done. My breathing was off and I just couldn’t find the rhythm. The poses were new and more advanced than I could manage. It just didn’t click; I wasn’t there and definitely couldn’t embrace the now. So the natural choice after a frustrating class was to go to the gym, right? (I’ve only worked out from home in the last two years.) My arms did not thank me in the morning. I’d slept with my arms curled in, and straightening them out when I woke up felt most unpleasant. Fool me twice.

Lesson Three went wayward the very next day, going into my weekly beginner’s class. This week, however, Caroline was away so the class was taken by someone else. I’d grown accustomed to this class being a kind of intimate workshop: being able to ask lots of questions, and using the class to really focus on one or two specific aspects of yoga. I’d thought of things I wanted to talk about and I was excited to get a different perspective. The class was good, but just very different to how it normally plays out. To begin with, the class was so full a fellow regular thought they’d walked into the wrong class as there were so many people, so the intimacy wasn’t there. It took me a while to get into the swing of the class, as I’d foolishly gone in with expectations again. Fool: me. Thrice.

Keeping The Gaze Forward

Each time I faltered I started to feel annoyed at myself. It’s something I’m quite good at — self-deprecating should probably go on my cv. Eventually I came round and accepted that just because they were lessons learned (and learned again), it’s not a problem. You never stop learning, and if you think you have you’re not trying hard enough. There’s always something new to try, and there’ll be times you repeat a stupid mistake, but it’s the learning that matters.

Other than my few discrepancies, things feel as thought they’re coming along nicely. I’ve bagged a couple more firsts, and I’m building up the courage to go for things I previously didn’t want to attempt – head and handstand is on the list! I’ve met a few more lovely yogis — Yotopia really feels like it’s a community, reception staff seem to have a really great relationship with regulars, and have been so welcoming and understanding with me.

The End In Sight

For those keeping track, I did take a day off, which I think made quite a difference. It gave my body the chance to really appreciate what I’ve been doing these last few weeks. I’m still having troubles with my quads in Chair and the Warriors – and I can’t help feeling like I’m doing something wrong. I’ve spoken to a few yogi friends and most of them have explained it’s likely that yoga is not a usual exercise for the legs, so it’ll take time.

It definitely feels odd, as my back and shoulders both felt weak to begin with, but have strengthened each week, whereas my quads go through semi-regular cycles of strength and weakness. Did you have a particular weakness you had to overcome when you started your practice? Help me feel like I’m not the only one and share your thoughts and stories in the comments below.

I’m looking forward to my final week, not because I’m ready to put it all behind me (though a more flexible schedule will be very much welcomed!), but because Zen Monkey and Yoga London have arranged to join me for my final class. I’m so happy to have become a part of the family and read everyone’s experiences. One of my favourite recent posts was Alexandra’s experience of last month’s #ZenMonkeyAsanaChallenge. I’m also hoping to take the next two steps forward in my practice. I hope you’ll join me.

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