Picking up where I left off….the last blog post I wrote was about doing a sprint triathlon during which the brakes on my bike were rubbing my front tire the whole time and lots and lots and lots of people passed me. I was totally discouraged. In reflection, I saw that I had made everyone passing me the frame of reference for how the race went for me. All those people were faster than me = I am a loser. I really don’t belong in this whole triathlon thing.
I have spent the last month chewing on how I got my head in such a self-defeating rut.
This is what I have come to see about me. I like being good at things. I imagine that other people feel the same way – right? (back me up here, people). I don’t love the whole learning curve, growing, getting stronger, gaining confidence phase. I want to be a natural at something. I want to get it right away. Therefore, I’ve never taken voice lessons or joined a choir even though I would love to really sing. I don’t knit or sew, despite literally knowing how, because I end up feeling stupid and frustrated with how slow I am and how much I have to work at it.
Yoga did come naturally and maybe because of that I wasn’t self-conscious about being good or bad at it. I saw other people going deeper into poses and doing things that I couldn’t yet (or ever) do, but I was inspired and encouraged by their practice, not deflated and diminished. I love practicing yoga in community because of the wide and varied ways that people practice in the same class! There is a woman in her 70’s who is a regular in my classes. When she started in a Beginner’s yoga class a few years ago she was a total train wreck. She was beyond exasperated by how strange and awkward yoga was. It did not come naturally for her. And yet she stuck with it. She showed up to just about everything. Her yoga practice evolved and deepened and expanded more than I think she ever expected. These days she practices with me about 3 times a week. She is confident and at ease. I am honestly amazed by her transformation. Her resilient spirit inspires me to no end to step out of my own comfort zones.
Another woman in my class is a total natural at yoga. She is S T R O N G. She can hold crow for as long as you can count. She adds a chaturranga here, there, and everywhere, because she can. When I see her practice I want to hold the plank 5 seconds longer. Her strong practice doesn’t diminish mine — it empowers mine! I love having her in class because she is so blazing strong.
This past Sunday I did another triathlon and it was twice as long. I wasn’t as worried about the physical work as I was about the mental work. I had decided to focus on the triathlon not as a “race” but as a practice, like a yoga practice. I wrote on my arm “It’s all practice. FIMP” Failure is Impossible. I kept my mind focused on a phrase I often say in class to find the balance between effort and ease. And when the first woman passed me on the bike, I just about jumped off my seat I was so excited for her! I shouted “You go Girl! You look awesome!”. Each and every woman that passed me I shouted and cheered them on and was sincerely so inspired and empowered by their strong work. Some shouted back “You too!”, “thank you!”, “see you in the end!”. It was so fun. I loved it. (and no, I did not yell for every guy that passed me. There were too many. But, if they were polite enough to say “passing on your left” I would then reply “well, go get it then!”, which was also fun.)
The difference in my experience of these two triathlons was completely and entirely about ME and how I participated in relation to everyone around me. The first one I was threatened and diminished. This one I was inspired, encouraged, and empowered. I made all the difference. I was not physically “better” at it this last triathlon, but mentally I was thriving.
The meditation mantra of the month is the word SANGHA, which means “practicing community”. Yoga classes practice yoga together. Mosques, synagogues, and churches practice their faith together. Choirs practice singing together. The activity takes on another dimension when practiced together, in community. So, how do we show up in our various communities? Are you diminished and intimidated like I was in the first triathlon? Are you empowered and empowering? Are you on the sidelines or in the middle, doing everyone else’s job? How are you showing up in the communities of which you are a part?
Is the whole group setting part of what keeps you from starting yoga? Or any other activity where other people are involved? I get it. I swear – I really do. I hope we both step out of our comfort zones a little bit here and there. I think we might be missing out on something that we might just love. Who knows. What the heck. It’s all practice, right? FIMP. – failure is impossible –
peace on your head, you.
***all my classes are pretty beginner friendly or will be if you are a beginner and you let me know. 🙂 Most people who are in my classes started out brand, spanking new to yoga. I promise not to kick you out until you figure it out. And if you want a class specifically for beginners, then stay in touch. I’ll be offering a Beginner’s Yoga class on Monday nights starting in the fall.