I’ve often felt (and been told) that what happens in the yoga room echoes what happens in the world outside. The challenges you face on your mat, are parallel to those you face in life.
Unemployment and yoga have traditionally gone well for me together. I can practice at all times of the day, and it gets me out of the house and into a zone so zen that I’m better able to concentrate on what I have to do next.
Sunday was not one of those days. My body was exhausted from the four hours of practice I’d endured on Saturday. I was hot, it was crowded and I did not feel strong or nourished enough to get through.
Then the instructor said something that caught my attention. He asked if when we found we were giving up in postures, did we similarly find that we were giving up in life.
That stayed with me for the rest of class and all of the days since then. I’ve been thinking a great deal about accountability. Accountability in thought and in action. It comes back to a debate I have long held with my friend Jeetan – what dictates your life – is it fate or your own actions?
Needless to say I tried not to give up for the rest of class, pushing hard in my least favourite postures all the way through the end.
I’ve always felt things happen for a reason. Sometimes no matter how hard I’ve fought for something, the alternative turns out even better than what I’ve fought for. This can be said of my move to Toronto. It can be said of many other challenges I’ve faced in my life.
But I notice that sometimes people use the “everything happens for a reason” as an excuse – a reason not to take responsibility for their own life. It’s always easier to be a victim than an agent.
When things happen to you, you can feel sorry for yourself. You can cut yourself slack, and indulge in things you wouldn’t ordinarily, to make up for what has happened.
When you are the person creating the change, you are less able to justify this to yourself, which makes it a little harder and more uncomfortable. But it pushes your boundaries and in the end you grow as a person.
Yoga helped me learn this. There are good classes and bad classes. I learned to take the good with the bad, the positive with the negative and do what I could with what I had.
I learned that I wouldn’t always be at 110% on any given day doing any given thing, but that I could do the very best I could and that is okay. But to choose to give it as much as I had rather than to give up and walk away.
If I make mistakes or I don’t have a great class so be it. If I can fold myself in half backwards on Tuesday and barely lean my neck back Wednesday that’s also okay. One of my teachers once wrote that the worst yoga class is the one you don’t go to. The same could be said of life. If you don’t participate, you’re only lowering your potential outcome.
Today was Day 35 of my yoga challenge. I had a very weak class and could barely hold my balance during any of the beginning postures. I started to wonder why I did this challenge and why I bothered showing up at all. I was giving up.
About an hour and fifteen minutes into the class, as I reached my feet in full camel posture (something I’ve only been able to do since last week) and felt that exhilaration run through my body I remembered why I love this yoga and why it is, that I show up both to yoga and in life.