24 June 2016

At Some Point The Bar Doesn't Matter

Hello again!

It started on 29 February. I began a 60 day Bikram challenge which morphed into a 120 day challenge.

Today would have been Day 117.

Let me type that again.

Today would have been Day 117.

Alas, it is not to be.

From the start in February, this challenge has been the most demanding one I've ever undertaken. Illness, injury, work schedules and life events have taken their toll. I would get behind, then do double after double to catch up. Then I would get behind again, and repeat the process. When I got to Day 60, I was nowhere the level of proficiency I had attained last summer (read about it HERE). So I just kept going. And going. And going.

Problem was, my practice got worse. And worse. And worse.

I would start yawning in Pranayama. I couldn't extend my arms in Half-Moon. I had neither balance, nor strength, nor flexibility. I couldn't pick up or hold my foot in Head-to-Knee. Sometimes I couldn't reach back for my leg in Standing Bow. I was spending 45, 60, sometimes 70 minutes lying on my back. My anxiety grew. Crowded classes were difficult because there were so many people. Small classes were difficult because there was nowhere to hide from the instructor (as if one could hide from an instructor). I rarely focused on myself in the mirror. My diet improved... sometimes.

Still, I was going to knock this out and get back into form. My FB post from June 7:

"Here we are. Day 100, Class 94. This year, it has been infinitely more difficult -- I feel like a beginner again. If you've set up next to me or led any of my classes, you know what I'm talking about. That said, I am nothing if not stubborn. I've got 21 days left to complete 26 classes and I intend to see this through. Searching for that "A-ha!" moment where things fall back in place. And if it takes another 60 to figure it out, so be it."

Brave words, but hollow. The harder I pushed, the worse things got. From June 15:
"Do you ever suffer from impostor syndrome? Do you ever feel as though you simply have no business being in this room with these wonderful men and ladies? That you just don't quite fit in? Do you ever wonder how they can keep going, posture after posture, while you crash to the floor with your head down, feeling like a complete fool? Do you ever wish that the floor would open up and swallow you whole? Do you ever wonder? 

Haha. Me neither...
(Asking for a friend.)"

I was hoping I could make it work, but no. My classes got a little better, but I was just exhausting myself trying to catch up. I wasn't going to fall short. I wasn't going to FAIL.

When this week started, it was very simple: do doubles Monday - Friday and then rest up for a triple next Monday the 27th. (My work schedule prevents me from making any classes this weekend.)

I wasn't happy about it, but I was prepared to do it. Until Tuesday past.

From June 22:

"I did not take class tonight. I'm here to fulfill my work-study obligations.
A few days ago, I wrote about how I'm struggling in the room and how I was going to just keep going no matter what. My current challenge was to do 120 days (I did a 60-day and thought I should keep going), but work and life have put me behind to the point where I would have had to do a triple next Monday to finish on time. Last night a friend asked if I was going to a double and when I said yes they stopped me. Said they see me struggling. Didn't want me to do two classes, and if I did then at least simply do one set of each posture. Didn't want me to kill myself in there. Wanted me to get the full benefits of the yoga. Said it was ego that was driving me. 

You know what? This person was correct. 

Achieving a set number is great, but you can lose yourself in it. I just wanted to be as proficient as I was last summer. When it wasn't happening quickly enough, I felt like I was failing. I pushed harder and harder, ultimately to my detriment. I've never NOT completed a yoga challenge, and it is really hard to admit I'm going to fall short. But it would be better to stop and reset. So at 114 days and 110 classes, I'm stopping. Taking a day or two off. I'll get where I want to go, but I can't rush it. I must trust the process. 

So, no, I didn't take class tonight.
And I'm ok with it.

To that friend, Thank You!
Blessings to all."

The studio owner replied:

"What you have accomplished is nothing short of amazing. It's beyond what most of us could ever do. Please don't keep setting the bar higher and punishing yourself for not reaching it. At some point the bar doesn't matter. This is that time. You have done enough challenges and enough doubles and enough back to back yoga classes. Take a break. Take care of yourself. None of us are measuring you or your classes. We love you for you. I hope you can too."

Having a difficult time with that, as I have for most of my life.

I just don't quite know how to do that.

I planned on going to class tonight, but no. I'm going to rest some more and perhaps do some more writing this weekend  -- perhaps even here. 

Yoga can wait a little while longer.




  1. This is Yoga, and you're living it. I have decided that every time I go into the hot room it is my personal challenge, and I do not need to ascribe to a set number of classes or "accomplishments" to do yoga. Yoga became a way for me to focus my perfectionist tendencies, and it wasn't joyful. I'm grateful for one teacher in particular who taught me to listen to my body and let go of all my expectations. Yoga has become joyful again, and I'm not keeping a mental checklist of my "failures." Yoga is still teaching me. What a journey! I loved reading your honest portrayal of your yoga journey this year. You are a true yogi.

    1. Geneva: you hit the nail on the head. Yoga is not joyful these days. In fact, I tried to take class last night after a week off and bailed 30 minutes in. I was angry that the time off had done nothing to help my practice... in fact it was worse. I don't listen to my body; I simply try to force myself into the posture, and that is wrong. I've never been able to let go of expectations... Expectations are everywhere: job, relationships, etc. I've never been able to wrap my mind around "letting go". How can there be advancement and improvement (in any facet of life) w/o them?

      I truly appreciate your comments, and that you follow along no matter how much time elapses between posts. Thank you!!