I have to say, I really love Wednesdays. Typically Eric and I both work out, which makes for kind of a late dinner, but one that feels totally earned after such a long day. And not like “burned so many calories” earned, but “worked up a legit appetite at work and at play” earned. It was my night to cook and I’ve got some glorious-smelling BBQ beer chicken in the slow cooker that I am really excited to go eat in a little while.
Tonight I’m in an even better mood than usual because I just got home from a great yoga class. It was great because, well, it’s my favorite class (Iyengar) with my favorite instructor, but I’m especially happy about tonight because it was my first unofficial non-beginners class.
Allow me to explain.
The studio where I’ve been taking classes since the end of August offers a few classes for beginners, as well as a formal series of classes. When I decided to start doing yoga regularly, I felt OK going to regular classes, as they are meant for all levels and I had some yoga experience. I also felt OK going to beginners classes when they made more sense with my schedule, because sometimes it’s nice to go at a slow pace and make sure you’re doing everything correctly.
But no matter what the classes are officially called, I’ve been treating myself like a beginner since August, turning every class into an unofficial beginners class.
I finally realized I was doing this last week. It hit me in a few different ways.
First, I caught myself using a strap for a pose that I’ve needed a strap for for months. For the past month or so, I’ve realized after about two seconds that I don’t need the strap and I let it fall. So why do I keep getting the strap anyway? It’s like every time I think, This is going to be the day when I need that strap again. I think because yoga still feels so foreign to me, so “activity other people who are not me do,” it’s just hard to believe the progress I’m making.
Later that week, the instructor was explaining how to take a dolphin pose to the next level, which I had no intention of doing. I’ll stick to my level one version, thankyouverymuch. She was saying to the class that you might not be ready to go to this level just yet, but, she said, we might be in a month or two if we kept practicing the first level. Uh. I’d been practicing the first level for months. Was I ready to up level? I realized I had no idea because I was still thinking of myself as a newbie. I realized that even though it’s nice that I don’t feel very competitive when it comes to yoga, perhaps that was hindering my progress. when I did a pose for the third class in a row and used a strap.
A few days later, I was in a vinyasa class that was filled with an unusual number of beginners. As the instructor spent more time helping the beginners understand the new poses, I realized she was paying me less attention. It wasn’t that she was neglecting me; it’s that when she was explaining the way to do poses, she just wasn’t directing her comments toward me. I realized this has happened a few times lately. The instructors still correct me, of course, but when they are explaining the basics to the whole class, they give me that “go ahead and get started now” nod that I saw other people getting for the first couple months.
And of course, there is the fact that I’ve had to take a front-row spot in class more often (thanks to the lovely Resolutionaries). The first couple times this happened, I felt really anxious about it, but now I’m just doing it without really thinking twice. I don’t care if other students see what I’m doing. I’m by no means the model student, but I at least feel like I know my ass from my elbow. (You don’t need to know your ass from your elbow to be in the front row during a class, of course. But I’ll admit that I still like knowing the difference when I’m in front.)
All of these little occurrences gave me the push I needed to choose tonight as the night when I’d finally stop treating myself like a beginner! When I got to class this evening, I set up my mat in the front row and didn’t take a strap for the pose for which I’d been thinking I needed it. Unsurprisingly, I was totally fine without the strap. And I pushed myself a little bit harder all throughout the class too. When I think of myself as a beginner, it’s so easy to take breaks because I want to, not because I need to. Oh, I’m the new girl, I tell myself. I can’t. As long as I’m a beginner in my mind, I will totally play the victim and get lazy without even realizing it.
I still have a long way to go with yoga, but I finally feel like I’m to a point where I don’t think of it as some thing other people do. It’s something I do. And Im thinking I’ll do it a hell of a lot better now that I can see that.