For the last week I have been taking hot yoga classes in an attempt to strengthen, lengthen, and loosen up this body of mine. Three days in, I had a complete melt down on the mat. I mean full-blown body jerking tears began to flow. I had a complete release while laying on the mat in dead man's pose. As I have reflected on that moment, several things have come to mind
1. I did better in this class than I had done in the previous two classes, and I felt good about what I had done. I had hope that I could continue on.
2. Although my legs weren't completely straight, although I wasn't able to lay back on the mat in a controlled fashion one vertebrae at a time, I sort of just fell, although my stance was a little higher and legs a little lower, although I wasn't able to hover or even pretend like I was going to do a handstand, I was there and did better than I had the previous classes.
3. There was soft music playing in the background reminding me that Jesus loves me. I can praise him anywhere. Despite my limitations, which are limitations right now, not forever, I am strong. The teacher, at the beginning of the class, encouraged us to focus on our strength throughout the class. I began to focus on what I did accomplish in the class, and chose not to spend my energy on what I didn't do because the reality is that I did complete an hour of hot yoga. That is an accomplishment all on its own. And above all us, Jesus loves me!
In my first class yoga class, the teacher used the term reciprocal inhibition. This term stuck with me. In essence, it describes the process of muscles on one side of a joint relaxing to accommodate contraction on the other side of that joint. If two opposing muscles were to contract at the same time, a muscle would tear. She spoke of this term in regards to muscles of course, but it immediately struck me in regards to life. I am by nature, a learner and a teacher. I couldn't not do it, even if I wanted to. Fear is a natural feeling, but on the other side of fear is so often our breakthrough. In order for the best version of ourselves to emerge, in order for us to walk in our purpose and reach our fullest potential, we have to relax our fears and do what sometimes is uncomfortable. Discomfort is good, pain not so much; we have to learn the difference. We also must learn to be comfortable in our discomfort for that is where we will find our growth. The problem is that many of us don't know the difference in discomfort and pain and think of them as one in the same; we must learn the difference.
The last lesson I want to share is this. we were practicing balancing poses, and the teacher said, "Your balance (or lack thereof) in life, will typically show up on the mat." This blew my mind. For wherever the mind is, the body will surely follow. We must learn to block out all the unnecessary noise in life and find balance. And sure enough, as I began to silence my mind, I found balance on the mat.
I wouldn't dare yet call myself a yogi, but I have definitely found value in this experience. Don't be afraid to try something new, approach it with an open mind, be comfortable in your discomfort, be gently with yourself, and open yourself up to learn the lessons.
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