19 June, 2013

Do your best

Today was Power Vinyasa with Brenna Hindman at Live Love Flow.

I did not want to go to yoga today. Really. Really. Really. I knew I was going, because I committed to it, but I did not want to go to yoga today. Even upon arriving, my mind was saying "How am I going to make it through this class." I had never taken class with Brenna before, which often serves as a moderate stimulant to my motivation and attitude, even on days such as this. When class started, the first few moments had a very "Baptiste" feel to them. The choice of words, and the cadence to them reminded me of the most traditional of "Journey Into Power" experiences. That, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. But it triggered this expectation in my head of "Oh no... we're going to be doing a straight Journey Into Power sequence... How am I gonna make it through this?" And that's where it stopped, because Brenna took a left turn from there, and never checked the rear-view mirror.

This was a fantastic class. Somehow, after those initial moments, something Brenna said managed to snap me into the moment, and align me with the true intention of doing yoga in the first place, which is to find each moment interesting and exist fully within it. The class started rather unconventionally with a long series of Sun A. We did either 7 or 8 of them, and the last few were more or less self-guided. She told us to just keep going, without worrying about what anyone else was doing, and to follow our own breath, and to not worry about how many more there would be. And then we went into some longer flow sequences, notably lacking in Warrior I, which we repeated 3 full times, where the first repeat was super-slow. These were good flows, and Brenna also did a lot of encouragement to close our eyes whenever possible, trusting ourselves, and being okay with falling.

At some point early in the class, she offered a phrase of encouragement that hit me just right. She said:

"Do your best."

This was a very interesting phrase to me, because it's different from any other words of pure encouragement. It requires one to do some inquiry. "Am I doing my best? What is my best right now?" And it also reserves judgment. It isn't saying that we should try harder, or move faster. It is merely asking us to recognize what we are doing right now, and to ask if this is what is our best, and potentially to adjust if it is not. This worked for me. I am not sure why, but when someone asks me to do my best, I feel a sense of duty. To myself. Not to anyone else. And I don't want to disappoint myself.

The middle of class included three Plank holds, each a minute long, where we were told we could do whatever kind of Plank we wanted to do. I liked the idea of not specifying for us, but allowing us to choose. That choice, mixed with a healthy dose of "Do your best" probably led to me working much harder than I might normally even work. Then she gave us play time to work on Crow or other types of inversions. I dabbled with the beginnings of a tripod headstand, though I am not quite ready to lift more than one knee at a time off the shelves of my triceps.

By the end of class, I felt completely different than I did at the beginning. I transitioned from feeling dread over going to yoga into feeling gratitude and peace. Not every day will be like this. There will be days where I lose the battle with myself. On those days, the best I can do is show up and endure. But these transformative days are a nice reward for the hard work of practice.

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