16 December, 2013

Is not being a yes being a no?

Today was vinyasa with Chelle Swierz.

Today's class really pushed me outside my comfort zone. Part of this push was because the class was very difficult, and had a lot of extra "stuff" in it, in terms of intensity. Seemed like every Warrior pose we did had some sort of folding forward with arms clasped behind our backs. It wasn't so much that it was beyond "Level 1" (whatever that means) in the poses that were called, as it was just an amped up intensity. For the most part, I met that challenge, except where I felt that my integrity was being compromised.

But there are some things that "I just don't do." And I know that the expression "I don't do that" has associated with it, especially in the land of self-help (which I consider yoga to be), a connotation of negativity or defeatism. For example, jumping into Crow from Downward Dog (3 times). Or doing Headstands. These are things "I just don't do." Chelle made the point during class today that we should "Be a Yes" (that is Baron Baptiste verbology).

But I pose the question back to... Baron: "What if I don't want to be a yes to that?"

I don't want to do headstands, really. Part of me feels I am not ready for it, and that part of me should perhaps be a yes for trying. But a bigger part of me really just doesn't want to do it. I do not aspire to be a big inverter, acrobat, yoga-to-the-tenth-degree kind of person. I come to yoga to take the energy down. I have never shown up to a yoga class thinking "I want to come here to be energized, electrified, awakened." I am quite aware that there are people who do come for this. And I respect that, though it does baffle me because it's not my disposition. But am I a "no" because that's not what I want out of yoga? It was interesting, because I felt, tonight, like the Baptiste language was excluding me from being okay with what I wanted out of the class. Part of me doesn't want to jump to Crow because I think about all of my feebleness with respect to wrists, shoulders, low back, etc. And I think, "Well, I could do this just for the sake of saying 'Yes, I was a yes'," but even if I surprised myself and landed a perfect Crow out of Downward Dog, I would not be thinking "I am glad I tried that!" I would be thinking, "Okay, so... I am sure glad I didn't hurt myself, but I am not sure I want to try that again!"

I have never been a thrill seeker, or a daredevil. The joy I have derived, in progress, in yoga, is noticing the subtle ways in which my body flexes a little more than it did before, and the subtle ways in which my mind or body are a little quieter than they were before. There are days that I experiment with things that push my boundaries, but acrobatics, save for an occasional close-to-the-ground arm balance, are not my forte.

Am I a no?

The sad part is that this pondering around whether I was a yes or no ended up making me start being an actual "no" in the sense of starting to resist and defy the instruction. I reached a point where I just found myself doing some other pose, or bagging on back bends because I felt like "I have had enough, and don't really need any more." I found myself thinking, "I don't really need 90 minutes of ass-kicking yoga. 60 was enough, so now it's time to spend 5 minutes in Pigeon." And it's probably true, at that point, that the rationalizations were being mixed together with the inner truths. And that will always be the case, on or off the mat.

What I want Baron Baptiste to teach is that "being a yes" means being true to whatever it is that you need in your practice, and not being governed by an external coach telling you what a yes or a no is.

All that said, I love Chelle as an instructor. As much as this class threw my mind into a tizzy, I would show up again for the same 90 minutes, and I would endure the same inner struggles (perhaps) that I did, without complaint. I think I would still not do the jumping into Crow, and I would still not do the Headstand. But perhaps I would not question myself, Chelle, Baron Baptiste, the students around me (for complying and making me look like a slacker!), and the universe, for not aligning perfectly with what I wanted for my practice on this particular day.

You know what I'm saying?

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