I’m into yoga. I’m sure I’ve told you this before. I have the completely reasonable belief that it makes me fitter and stronger, and the completely unreasonable (and unproven) belief that my practice also makes me taller and more graceful. (I feel taller after yoga. The fact that the Gap “short” pants are still too freaking long for me is irrelevant. How short is “short” to The Gap anyway? The average height of a Canadian woman is 5’4″, so what’s up with a 5’1″ Canadian woman putting on “short” pants and finding them 4″ too long?)
Now usually, I practice Yoga at home. Yoga stresses both willful determination to do ones best (I have no trouble with this) and acceptance of where one is in their individual practice. This is challenging for me. I have absolutely no problem accepting where other people are in their practice. I think that every person should try really hard to do their best while not crapping on themselves for not being as far along the road as they would like. The problem starts when I try to apply that to myself.
Until such time as I learn not to be so competitive in yoga, I’ve been only going to classes occasionally, just often enough to clean up my practice, correct any bad habits I’ve picked up in the living room and challenge myself a little bit. Last week I felt like I was getting sloppy, and I packed myself off for a little cleanup.
I put down my knitting, picked up my mat and headed off. I took a deep breath as I laid my stuff out beside the women with no bulges anywhere on their bodies, and I exhaled anxiety as all of these lithe young people picked up their left legs and effortlessly deposited them behind their right ears while smiling the divine grin of self acceptance (I bet it’s pretty freaking easy to embody self-accemptance when all you have to accept is being beautiful and flexible, but I digress.) while I sat there feeling like a supreme dorkling, trying to inhale self-love and exhale judgment…reaching up through my head and grounding myself down through my feet, really stretching for a better self.
It was going pretty well too. I did a decent tree, a pretty snappy downward dog, then right out of the restful blue, the most beautiful 14 pound 6′ tall woman folded herself into the scorpion pose and something in me snapped. Some part of me that just can’t do it. I couldn’t let her be that much better than me. Every lesson I’d learned, every possible concept I’d internalized about being the best that I can be went right out the window and my competitive self exploded onto the scene.
I lost my cool. The little bubble of “being the best me I can be” burst and suddenly I was trying to keep up with this woman. I ignored anything my body might have been saying to me (little whispered messages like “stopstopstopdearholyheavenstop”) and I didn’t just try to keep up to the best of my ability, no, no. I compared my living room yoga body to the body of a 20 year old who lives yoga. I stifled any protest my groin may have about whether or not I could actually do those things and I quietly swallowed screams of protest from every muscle group in my body. If she reached, I reached. If she folded, I folded. If she inhaled a little deeper into a post then damn it….I gasped my way to a physical impossibility.
As I crawled home (although the real pain didn’t hit until today, when I discovered that the degree of leg bending one needs to do to “use the facilities” created spiraling purple pain shot through with yellow sparkles ) I got to thinking about competition and I got thinking about knitting.
Despite my complete, total and unabridged inability to attain a competition free state while at the gym, when I got home I sat down with my knitting (and a couple of tylenol) and realized that once again, the practice of knitting has a lesson for me to take to the rest of my life. If I knit something crappy, I’m ok. (Perhaps slightly pissed, but ok.) If I cannot conquer a knitting move, I don’t compare myself to Eunny and stay up nights weeping. I try to challenge myself in wooly ways and I make a bold endeavor to knit very well, but I don’t think less of new knitters and I don’t judge knitters who haven’t cabled yet. Why then, am I so hard on myself when I can’t achieve the yoga equivalent of a shetland shawl without determination and practice?
It’s something I’ll be thinking over as I try to lift my arms high enough to hold my knitting today.
Tv-less coverage of The World Cup.
I’m pretty sure Portugal won again.
Italy must have been playing, since in Little Italy, everyone was watching the game.
but in end, the band didn’t play,
and everyone went home.
I think Italy lost.