I knew it had been a while since I had gone to a yoga class but I didn’t realize it had been a full month until I was limping out of class — wondering WTF? — and I checked my calendar. My last class was a month ago. And my last regular week of classes was in February.
Unsurprisingly, last night’s class was not my best.
I almost didn’t go to yoga at all last night. I knew it was going to be hard since it had been a while, and I was really tired. But then I told myself to just suck it up and get it over with. The sooner I just ended my yoga hiatus, the better I’d feel. It was my favorite class, my favorite instructor…I would be fine, right?
Ugh, I was so not fine. I kept having to take breaks during poses that I’ve been comfortable in for several months now. I expected some of that, but not that much. During Warrior 1, my instructor came over and asked me if I had an injury because I was holding back so much. No, no injury. Just hips that were tight as hell and refusing to square off without causing an injury.
I’m not sure if the workout hiatus is completely to blame; I’ve taken plenty of long breaks from working out in the past and haven’t felt like such a wreck when I started up again. My level of tiredness yesterday may have had something to do with it. I’ve been running up a huge sleep deficit over the past two weeks and last night I was at that point when I just wanted my mom to tell everyone around me, “She’s overtired,” like parents say about a toddler who is on the brink of a meltdown. Normally I don’t get that frustrated when I can’t do things, especially in yoga, so I’m pretty sure I was just acting like a baby in desperate need of a nap.
I also know that perhaps all the frustration and emotion I was feeling last night in class was the result of not taking the time to feel a lot of frustration and emotion over the past four weeks. Between SXSW, losing a friend, and planning to get engaged, I was repeatedly reminded of the line in “Mean Girls” when the girl who doesn’t even go there says, “I just…have a lot of feelings.” The problem was that even though I knew I had a lot of feelings, I didn’t know quite what they were and I didn’t have much time to figure it out. So sure, yesterday could have been all the result of being out of shape physically, but I felt like it was probably the fact that my emotions — which most yoga instructors say are stored in our hips — were suddenly like, “Guys! Guys! Wake up! Get up! SHE’S OPENING HER HIPS! SHE’S OPENING HER HIPS! CHARRRRRRRRRRGE!!!!!” Then they stormed the castle and overtook me.
Today, I’m less tired (12 hours of sleep certainly helped!) and less emotional (again…12 hours of sleep!) but, as I expected, I’m incredibly sore. And annoyed. Of course I was going to struggle in that class. What did I expect? And now I’m looking back over the past month and, Was that really necessary? Could I really have not gone to a yoga class even once? Never? Not even a little bit?
The answer is, of course, no.
Today’s lesson: If I want to stick with yoga long-term (and I do), then I need to take at least one class a week, even when my schedule is full. I often slip into the “if I can’t do something as fully as I want to do it, why bother?” mindset. It’s even easier to use that excuse with yoga because the price of classes and memberships make it a good question to ask from an economic point of view. But the reason I should bother is because unless I’m planning on giving it up completely, I’m going to regret not going when I do eventually go again. And despite what I tell myself, there are enough free classes on weekends that there should never be a reason that I can’t make this happen.
On top of that, I need to aim for doing three poses a week, even if I can’t do more than that. I’m still struggling to accept the idea that I can just do one yoga pose and have that “count” as practicing. (And calling it “practicing” and “my practice” is another thing I struggle to accept. I don’t mind when other people say it, but I feel like a pretentious poser when I do it. Anyone else?) I can’t do a lot at home — my apartment is 97 percent carpet and practicing on soft carpet can be difficult, especially if you have bad wrists, which I do — but I can do some poses at home. I know that if I had been doing pigeon pose, forward fold, and a few twists regularly, I would have been in much better shape last night.
And now that I know what I need to do, I’m asking myself, “What’s my motivation?” to make sure I actually do it. For me, knowing why I am aiming for something is as important as knowing what my goal is. But my motivation this time is simple, and is coming right out of last night’s class: continued improvement in my flexibility and strength, and emotions that don’t storm the castle.