Yesterday afternoon, Monday, I went to gym, went home early enough to still have time to prepare for yoga, so I went to class in the evening.
It wouldn’t have been possible had I not pushed back against myself at the office, had I not said no to the option of overtime. Work will always be there, you will not run out of tasks to do. Be present for life, I told myself, as I left the office.
At the studio, I asked the receptionist who the teacher was. She mentioned the instructor’s first name, and added that she’s a new teacher.
The teacher’s instruction was different from what I am used to, and it seemed like she’s also new at being a yoga instructor, and here’s why:
- One instruction was to claw at the mat, outermost knuckles of the fingers lifted from the mat while the fingertips pressed down. That did not work for me, as I am most grounded through the hands whem the bones at the base of my fingers closest to my hands’ center are pressed down, fingers following, and not lifted until perhaps the very end of my fingertips.
- I needed to look around the room to compare my poses with others’ several times, to check if I understood the instruction correctly.
- I felt some awkwardness in the wild thing pose, as I already had a preference for how a certain instructor would make us transition into the pose in her classes.
- It would’ve been easier in some parts if she used the names of the poses to signal the next sequence of movements, since most of us weren’t beginners.
- There was a student who came in late and therefore was only able reveal her first-timer status after class, though the denim shorts should have been a dead giveaway. At one point she was instructed to look at her classmates.
Not all instruction will be agreeable. The key to my practice is how I move on my own during class, continuous attention to my body, the courting of strength and balance in the face of its limits and the demands of poses, and breath management.
Tonight, I made a breakthrough with one of the habits I’ve been struggling to improve: eating.
Do you know how it’s like when at times when someone is telling a story with too many details and you want to hurry to the punchline? It’s very subtle, and it sounds like: Just get on with it. I have heard something like this before, nothing fancy, how original can the punchline be? There’s impatience, boredom, and the belief that nothing’s new, that you know it all, but you still seek satisfaction from it, and if it doesn’t inspire an emotional response worth dwelling on, best be done with it, immediately. It feels like that’s how I approach eating when I’m too stressed. Eating is nothing new to me, but I crave for the punchline of pleasurable food.
In stressful eating, one eats too fast, too often, too much, and yet it seems like it’s never enough.
All that grounding from circuit training and yoga helped me I start dinner with a relaxed pace. More than halfway through the meal, I noticed I hurried up a bit, and that inner voice from class gave me the cue to deliberately slow down, to concentrate on the growing feeling fullness in my stomach, so I could decide how much more to eat, and if I’m satisfied, and why or why not.
It felt similar to how I managed my practice that evening.
In yoga practice, I’ve observed that it helps to slow down and hold steady when your muscles are shaking, when you’re crying for help in your mind. The resolution is to guide yourself through it, and you can, because you are both the doer and the observer. Desperation and helplessness of the doer will eventually fall away with the guidance from the observer. This cooperation between your roles as doer and observer brings awareness to flow, a constant reality, composed of movement and stillness.
As I flow on the mat, so must I flow when I eat. Eating requires speed moderation. It directly affects weight, and indirectly affects one’s ability to carry the body with ease, and in acceptance or rejection.
The instructor, at the end of the class, reminded us about patterns, and said that we could observe them, and change them.
I broke an old eating pattern last night, and changed it with a new one that I am slowly internalizing, one that I’m giddily excited to practice from now on. Eating will continue to be a challenge, and the awareness of flow is my tool for that challenge.
I don’t think I would’ve arrived at that accomplishment if I found the instruction from that session all too easy to understand, and easy to agree with.