Wonder Boi Writes

Lessons from Power Yoga

Hi friends,

Many of you know my friend/editor/neighbor/fellow author Lynda Sandoval recently opened a yoga studio in our little corner of Western New York. I had the privilege of helping her do the renovations to the space, which is to say I talked to her and occasionally handed tools to other people. Still, I feel a sense of pride in the studio, and I want it to succeed. And by all accounts it is succeeding. They are offerings tons of classes in so many areas with so many amazing instructors, and people are responding. Attendance is growing every week. People who have never done yoga before are practicing next to people who can effortlessly pop into handstands. Our little community has thrown itself behind this endeavor, and there is a place for everyone in the movement.

I knew where my place was from the beginning. I would take the slow, not hot-classes where Lynda talked in soothing tones. I would downward dog, and salute the sun, spend lots of time in my beloved child’s pose, and to prove I wasn’t a slacker, I would do some planks. Then I would hang out in the lobby and welcome folks like a goodwill ambassador. Wooing is what I’m good at. Exercise, not so much.

I had the best of intentions, but those of you who follow this blog know I’ve had a busy few months. I’ve visited new places, accepted a new job, started a new novel, and signed a new book contract with a new publisher. So much newness. And of course I want to embrace those changes or I wouldn’t have accepted them, but as schedules got tighter and the pace of life got faster, I felt myself pulling back. I needed order. I needed routine, the familiar. I made a list of areas I wanted to anchor myself in and posted the list on my Facebook page as part of a 30 day challenge.

Here’s my list:

Health
64 oz of water x 30
60 servings Fruit and veggies
Detox bath x 4

Fitness
Yoga classes x 12
Run x 12
Plank x 30 minutes

Mental Health
Read Acts and Romans
Hang out with friends x 4
Donate to the Food Pantry

Work
25,000 words
Edit Perfect Pairing
4 blogs

Family
Family Tennis x 4
Family dates x 4
NYC Vacation

Fun
Inflatable 5 K
Movies x 4
Try a new restaurant

It might look like a lot, but most of the items are basic. They’re things I should already be doing on a regular basis. Taking care of my health and my family and my job, these are the things I know. This list was meant to help me hone in on what I know is best for me. I love my list.

By the middle of the month, I was either on target or close to on target in all my major areas. The only thing I’d had a hard time with was the 12 yoga classes. All those slow, easy, not hot-classes I wanted to do didn’t fit with my schedule or Jackson’s schedule, so I fell behind. I wasn’t going to be able to catch up and stay in my comfort zone, so with a little prompting from Lynda, I agreed to take the power yoga class during the free community-class time slot. I figured I would be in over my head, but there were 20 people between me and the teacher. I hid my mat in the very back corner next to Lynda and planned to slip into child’s pose frequently, or make excuses to sip my water any time things got too hard.

Well, they got hard pretty quickly. I was sweating within 15 minutes. We moved quickly from one pose right into another. I didn’t have time to find an exit ramp we were moving so fast. I stayed up with the group largely out of frantic fear of not being able to untangle myself. Everyone else in the room seemed to be in the same boat. People laughed a lot as we forgot our right from left. Some guy in the front popped into handstand. Someone else tried and crashed. Still, the instructor calmly moved step-by-step through directions upon directions. I couldn’t see her, but she gave beautifully detailed verbal cues. Suddenly I didn’t know a pose looked complicated. I couldn’t see that “crow” was way over my head. I didn’t even have a full picture. I only had one explicit piece of the puzzle on top of another. She said “Put your hands down,” and I did. She said “Look out in front of you,” and I did. She told us, “Bend your arms.” I bent mine. She said, “Use your arms as shelf and hook one knee on.” Once I’d done that, she said to do the same thing with the other.

And I did.

(It looked like this…in theory)
images-2

I was in crow, a move I would have never tried if she’d shown it to me and asked, “Do you want to do this?” In fact, I had been asked that very question in the past and politely declined, taking either a modification or child’s pose instead.

But now, here I was, knees on elbows, feet in the air, completely stable and totally in my body instead of my head. I laughed and made Lynda look at me. I know, not very zen, but major progress. And one little accomplishment I didn’t even think I was trying for opened up a world of possibilities. I left feeling much more exhilarated than sore, and two days later I went back to Power Yoga. In fact, I’ve gone back four more times since then. Now I do “crow,” and “bird of paradise,” and supported head and handstands (Someday I will do them unsupported.), and today I got “side crow” for the first time.

(Side crow looks like this…in theory)

howtosidecrow

Each time I go into class open-minded and let go of all the fears and body image limitations I thought I had, I find I can do so much more than I ever thought to aspire to.

It’s been in a good lesson for me in this time of change. What if I didn’t try to get back to normal? What if I didn’t make reasonable goals? What if didn’t look at a whole problem and decide it couldn’t or shouldn’t be tackled. What if I just took everything as it came without anticipating it, without worrying about the fall or bowing out before I even got started?

What if we assumed we were all capable of doing the things that inspired us and meeting the challenges of the world around us?

What if we approached every step in a calm, matter-of-fact voice that implies everything is possible?

Who could we be then? What could we accomplish?

I don’t know, but I’d love to find out.

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September 23, 2015 - Posted by | Uncategorized

2 Comments »

  1. I have a xerox of a card on my cabinet that says “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” It never ceases to challenge me. Great blog and awesome poses.
    Ona

    Comment by onamarae | September 23, 2015 | Reply

  2. You actually DID look like that in crow, Rach. Great blog!

    Comment by Lynda Sandoval | September 23, 2015 | Reply


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