The Work

This post is not an easy one to write- the words aren’t coming to me as I try to organize the thoughts running through my mind. I feel like I have so much to say, but can’t find a way to say it. This feeling makes sense to me though because my practice during this past weekend of training pushed me to my limits. As my practice becomes more dedicated and focused, I find myself hitting walls. Both physically and mentally.

I used to view yoga as an exercise routine- something to challenge me and keep me in shape. Slowly it developed into more than that. I began to see the benefits not just in my physical body, but in my mental state and how I handled things in my day to day life. Yoga snuck up on me in a way I wasn’t expecting. Just as my practice snuck up on me this weekend. Initially, I entered the weekend feeling strong and grounded. I was excited and happy to go through our Ashtanga practice and learn about the history of yoga. Then Sunday rolled around and things seemed to start crashing down. It’s like they say, with more knowledge comes more awareness.

As I open myself up more and more to my practice, I begin developing a deeper knowledge of myself through the practice. As I come to my mat more often and challenge my physical body, my mind faces many challenges as well. I’ve noticed that when I get challenged physically sometimes it brings up certain emotions and forces me to deal with them. How do I respond to these challenges, these blocks, when I come up against them in my practice? In life? What do we learn from them and how do we move forward?

It’s really difficult. Especially when you’re in a room full of people and you feel vulnerable. It’s hard for me to be seen in this way. I feel exposed, I feel scared, I feel silly, I feel embarrassed. Yet we all come up against these blocks and challenges at some point in our practice and in our day to day lives. Part of what makes hitting these walls in my practice so difficult is that I’m still learning when to push myself and when to ease up. Part of yoga is being kind to yourself and listening to what your body needs, but how you do that changes every day. Some days I need to push myself so I can grow and other days I need to ease up on myself and know that it’s okay to rest in child’s pose. How do I know what I need each day?

“That’s the work.”

I’ve heard a couple of my teachers say this from time to time, usually during a long hold of a pose or a challenging flow. I always assumed they meant physically- because it is a physical practice. Now I understand that it encompasses so much more than that. It’s an ongoing process that can sometimes be quite overwhelming. All I can do is try to be present, feel what I’m feeling and move on.

As my mother has said (and continues to say) to me, “One day at a time, baby.”