Tuesday marked my first day of Mysore practice. I keep thinking I need to write down the thoughts and feelings the practice is bringing up. This must be the place.
I was initially very scared to start. I thought my practice was not ready. I was nervous I would not be able to wake up so early. I was worried I might be one of the lazy people Sharath Jois mentioned in his famous quote, “Everyone can do Ashtanga. Except lazy people.”
And you know what? I wish I had been able to overcome my fears and begin this practice years ago. This week my teacher worked me through the beginning of the series up to Paschimottanasana, adding a few new poses each day. I stumbled my way through Led Primary yesterday, feeling more daunted and like less of a superhero by the end. I feel strong though, in unexpected places. It’s a practice of millimeters, I just keep saying to myself. “Practice and all is coming.” (Pattabhi Jois)
Something that has been on my mind quite often this week is the idea of inadequacy, of filling a void, which Jean Marie so perfectly describes in this article on her blog. She speaks about wondering if she really “belongs” in the Mysore room, and how this feeling is so related to having something to prove.
It took the first 3 years of practicing yoga to feel like I was not just the fat girl hiding in the corner of the class. It took going to class every day, or as close to every day as I could manage, to keep from wanting to crawl out of my own skin and disappear.
I think another aspect that kept me from the practice for so long was that the teachers I used to so love practicing with had nothing good to say about Ashtanga— like that so many women never make it to the second series and all the “fun poses” because they get stuck on the jump backs. Because they will never be strong enough. Honestly though, after this week, I have to say I am really disappointed in myself for listening to them. I am eager to nurture this budding feeling of maybe this isn’t so unattainable. It’s a hopeful feeling. A strong feeling. It’s incredible to me that four days of practice has stoked such a fire in me. To keep the metaphor going, I hope that the fire will grow. I hope it will start to burn away the depression, the mean things I say to myself, the feelings of not belonging anywhere or being good enough and always, always having something to prove.
Having something to work toward makes me feel excited to wake up at 5 AM to go sweat in a room with a bunch of other people who are probably as crazy as me.
Sometimes it feels like when I make a big positive change in my life, some other area of my life immediately begins to crumble, or maybe I just notice the cracks in the foundation. Nothing else about this week has been steady. After days of being locked in conflict with my mother, I have come to a place of radical acceptance. “Family isn’t whose blood you carry, it’s who you love and who loves you.” (Jackie Chan)
It is time for me to let go of expectations I have been clinging to for far too long and make space to let the light in.