I am literally addicted to arm balances. As I practice primarily Ashtanga and I am lucky if I get a full 90 minutes of practice time every day, I don’t have a lot of time to practice arm balances (like Eka Pada Koudinyasana, my new favorite pose! (above)). I typically do them in passing during the day, just to see “if I can.” Sometimes I fall flat on my face. But other times my balance and strength come together in just the right way and I find myself successfully keeping my feet off the ground and it feels like flying. Sometimes I don’t even feel how hard my arms are working to keep myself there; there is just bliss.
And then I fall. And then I spread out on my mat and try to calm my breath. And then, when I try the pose again, my arms buckle under my weight. But the next day, I get up and do it again. And again, the next day. And I find myself in balance just a little bit longer. Each asana is just a little bit easier. While I would love to be able to instantly find myself in each pose I scroll past on Instagram, I am grateful that it takes a lot of time and effort to find myself in “challenging” asanas for even a short time. I appreciate that I have to work toward improving myself, and I appreciate that success does not come easy. Because I love this journey I have found myself taking. The journey of Ashtanga yoga, the journey of figuring out who I am and what I am meant to do to be the best version of myself.
I hope that I never find myself at my destination. I hope I am always striving for improvement. I hope I never think of myself as having “finished” yoga. We are never finished with yoga, just as we are never finished making ourselves our most awesome possible selves.
The goal is not the goal. The journey is the goal.
Last night I went to my very first Bikram yoga class. My boyfriend had work yesterday, and my living situation right now is really, REALLY stressful, so I was determined to find something to do out of the house. I’ve been searching for a yoga studio close to where I work for a few weeks now with no luck. For some reason I didn’t even consider studios around where I actually live until last night and I am SO upset it took me this long to find a place to take classes because IT. WAS. AWESOME.
I think part of the reason I loved it so much was just because I haven’t really spoken to anyone outside of my coworkers, customers and my boyfriend for a LONG while now. It has been so hard on me to not really have any friends in Memphis. Whatever the reason, I’m hooked. I’m only going to be in Memphis for two more weeks but I bought a new student unlimited pass for way cheap and I’m going to go as many times as possible. Luckily, there is a studio in Oxford that offers Ashtanga AND Bikram classes, so this is definitely something I’m going to continue to pursue when I move. I love doing my Ashtanga primary with Kino, but I know if I plan on seriously going forward with Ashtanga I need an instructor’s guidance.
Anyway, back to the class. It was hot. I was so unprepared for how hot that room was. It reminds me of hot Mississippi summers when you just walk outside and start sweating. I was sweating on parts of my body I didn’t think possible. There were a few points that I had to just stand and take a few deep breaths, but I would say I kept up with the class pretty spectacularly for it being my first time. For a while during the class I wasn’t completely sold on it, but after we finished I knew 100% I would be going back. In fact, I’m going back tonight.
I recently read an article (that I absolutely cannot find right now) about being comfortable with whatever “is” at the present moment. Not expecting anything one way or the other, just noticing what is happening and accepting it as it is. That article stuck with me when I read it, but I don’t think I really understood until last night in class. I mean, it was HOT. Incredibly, uncomfortably hot. I spent the first twenty minutes just thinking about how hot it was. But at some point, I said to myself that yes, it was hot, it was going to stay hot and there was absolutely nothing I could do about it except leave, which I had decided not to do. That meant that I had to stop fighting against the heat and just let it be. I had to let myself just be. And I did. And it was awesome.