16 February, 2012

We are defined by a series of choices

Today was Vinyasa with Kathy. 

It was supposed to be Hatha with Colette, but I found myself departing from work a little too late to make it to the 5:15 class. I sort of had a plan for the next few days of alternating between Hatha (Colette), Vinyasa (Cassandra) and Hatha (Patrick), but I guess plans are made to be altered. 

I used to perceive there as being a large difference between the two types of classes. There is definitely a difference, but the gap is closing. And my struggles tend to be more mental than physical. 

I remain very tired, and very sleep-deprived.

Today, Kathy talked a bit at the beginning of the class about how we need to be conscious of our choices. She said that it's really easy to suddenly realize that you've become someone that you didn't want to be. And that every moment, we make choices that define who we are. This is something I have been thinking about a lot lately. There have been other points in my life where I'd been told that we are defined by our actions more than our words. And I never liked that before. I guess there was a lot of inconsistency between what I said and what I did. In reality, I think that is true of me today, as well. I think the gap is closing a little bit, but I still find that there are discrepancies. 

It really struck me... "suddenly realize that you've become someone that you didn't want to be..."

I am not sure why that causes such an emotional reaction. It's like we go through our lives taking action after action, without adequate reflection. All these actions are defining us. Then, something occurs that leads us to take stock in our situation and, only at that point do we realize who we are.

I do not want to have that jarring experience. I recognize that no matter how much I try to make good choices, and no matter how often I reflect, there will still be gaps between perception of self, and the reality.

Yoga is supposed to help us with that routine of taking stock. It seems to break down the process into something that is less like a journal and more like a mirror. I tried, for many years in my life, to "reflect" by writing about what was going on. But the process of writing about it, while insightful, can have huge blind spots, because I was very capable of deceiving myself. I could tell the story the way I wanted to, change the story later, and leave out parts of the story that I did not want to tell. There is the value of the archive of all of these thoughts, and seeing patterns. If we're honest, we can learn much. With yoga, we are experiencing these struggles on the mat, which we handle in much the same way as the struggles we experience off the mat. There is little to think about on the mat other than what we are doing, what we are experiencing at that moment on the mat. Thus, it's pretty easy to see how we're navigating the challenges we encounter. The result is that I've been having this "This is what I do" moments. They aren't comfortable, they aren't eloquent, they aren't even elaborate. They are just moments of undeniable truth. 

When I see what I am doing on the mat, I know "This is what I do" and I am suddenly armed with this knowledge when I get up and walk out of the room. Then, I encounter a struggle in life, and I have this memory of something familiar... "Sitting in this meeting, with this person who is upsetting me and making me uncomfortable is like trying to stay in Warrior II, with my hips tucked in just right, and my arms lifted... I want to drop my arms... I want to let my hips go... I want to wipe the sweat from my eyes... I want to run away..."

When I have that experience of remembering struggle on the mat, it makes me want to try that much harder on the mat the next time I have an opportunity, because I am starting to believe that, if I can learn to accept the discomfort, fatigue, struggle, on the mat, then maybe I will start to have greater capacity for the same thing off the mat.

I've always felt like I do a really spectacular job at Pigeon. I've even marveled at how easily I can get way down flat. Today, Kathy pointed out that the front of the thigh of our leg that is extended behind us should be completely flat on the floor. Interesting... because nothing, from my hip to my knee, is touching the floor. Some part of me is flexible enough that I can lay myself down, but my hip flexors are so tight, I cannot get that leg down. Furthermore, I cannot (yet) raise my body up, and lift my arms up in the air. Again, because of the hip tightness. This makes more sense, given the challenges I have with Warriors and with Locust. It was interesting to realize that there was much more to it than I thought.

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