Part I: “Perfect” (or) Shitty Yoga

For a 6:00 yoga class it usually goes something like this:

  • 5:00pm–talk myself into going and convince myself that I will be happy I went after its over
  • 5:13pm–put on capris and tank top
  • 5:14pm–do downward facing dog and watch as capris roll half-way down my legs
  • 5:15pm–kick off capris and search closet for “yoga pants”
  • 5:15:30pm–make mental note of how no one in yoga classes actually wears yoga pants, in fact, yoga pants have more of a home at Target on a Saturday afternoon than they do in a yoga studio.
  • 5:16pm–Pull on exercise leggings and spin to examine all angles
  • 5:17pm–bend over rear to mirror to see if pants have “LuLu effect” they always do.
  • 5:18pm–pull on Gap Fit capris which always fit well but are typically worn for running and decide it doesn’t matter.
  • 5:18:30pm–decide that combination of fitted capris and tank top is too tight and looks for perfect light yet loose (but not too lose) shirt.
  • 5:19pm–tie up not-my-hair in a ponytail
  • 5:21pm–tie up not-my-hair in a bun
  • 5:23pm–change from not-my-hair option #1 to not-my-hair option #2 and pin it back off my face
  • 5:24-5:32pm: tear apart my entire room looking for “yoga headband” which has elastic and stays in place while absorbing sweat
  • 5:40: after taking 17 unsuitable-for-instagram photos I notice how late it has gotten and I grab my keys and run out the door for class.

imagesI arrive. The room is heated and no matter what the actual temperature is, it is perpetually five degrees too warm and I begin to sweat immediately. I search around the room for a familiar face. There never are any. Svelte bodies stand erect upside down balancing to “warm up”.  I lay down in corpse pose and pull awkwardly at my clothes. Pants up, top down. I wiggle back to re-center myself on my yoga mat and try to bring myself into the room and the moment.

  • 6:00pm–the instructor begins class. Asks us to remember to breathe. Sweat decorates my top lip and I wish silently for a clock anywhere in the studio. I chuckle to myself because if there were a clock it would be fogged over. It’s so fucking hot in this room.
  • 6:27pm–after the 107th downward facing dog and 1,203th chaturanga my shoulders ache and I melt into child’s pose. My sweaty forehead sinks into my mat and I breathe my GODHELPME Ujjayi breath. It has surely been an hour, I think.
  • 6:31pm–my shirt which began as loose and flowy is now soaked with sweat and sticking to my skin. I self-consciously tug at it in between spreading my branches in tree pose and hands to heart.
  • 6:43pm–as we star pose to the side and the sweat drips as though I were wringing myself out I hear it hit my mat and it echoes as though Niagara falls were in the studio. I wonder if the man behind me can hear it too.
  • 6:50pm–spine twist, my body can barely bend this way and I look around the room to see others facing the back wall breathing effortlessly.  I make a mental note to research “yoga for fat people” when I go home.
  • 7:00pm–I taste the sweet relief of fresh cool air on my skin and say goodbye as I wonder if I can text someone to meet me for a late burger and a drink.

Yoga practice, not yoga perfect.

To conclude:
I made a promise to myself after my last class that I would not repeat this song and dance. Despite my account above, I really do love the practice of yoga. But I wanted people to know how incredibly frustrating it can be to get OUT of your head and be where you are. I get hung up on what I look like. What I sound like. What others think of me and think of my practice. But I just do not want to live that tightly anymore. I am in a place where I really am ready to shed the weight and restriction of other people’s opinions (and my own self-judgment). Happy.  That’s all. It doesn’t come from the perfect outfit or the nailing the perfect pose. Happy comes when you can enjoy exactly where you are, and what you look like and know that in those moments how blessed you are to be in them.   Moving forward, that is what I’d like my practice to be about: gratitude. Every inhale grace and every exhale thanks.  Perfection, or this ideal that I have been striving for…it was stifling me. I want to keep it out of my yoga classes and out of my everywhere else too.

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