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Yesterday I went to a Core Flow Yoga class. It was my first in a long time as I've been hung up by a chronic health condition. I've been feeling stuck in an inertia lately and I know I need to move... move my body, move my emotions, move my ideas... just move! So I pushed myself into a flow class to get the juices flowing!
Historically, I loved Flow Yoga. I craved the vigorous, sweaty nature of the class. I loved being in tip top shape and pushed myself to and past my limits constantly and twisted into pretzel shapes my body was not yet ready for. I'd adopt the cultural mantra of doing more, more and more... harder, faster, better. So here I was once again face to face with my old habits in a hard core class. This time I was learning my new limits and exploring my new edge. I actually feel this autoimmune/blood issue showed up to make me slow down. It’s making me learn how to live life with a brand new set of physical limits, in presence and honor of my sacred body. Having a PICC line in your arm (hollow tube that a doctor puts into a vein for chemotherapy) forces you to honor that limit, particularly in a Yoga Flow class.
So there I was surrounded by hard core yogis and my intention was gentleness. I wanted to find my edge and pull back from it, not push past it. Of course the universe put me beside a yoga instructor taking the class. She was going all out, into the fullest expression of the poses and let me tell you as a recovering perfectionist it was hard not to push harder and past my limits to 'keep up' with her. I actually chuckled when she set her mat beside me. Of course, she was placed beside me. Of course she was going to mirror my old way, my need for perfection. Booyah universe - one point for you!
It is never the intention of yoga to compare or compete but let’s be real, it happens a lot. We do poses the way others do them because we don’t want to look weak, stupid or less than. The ego is challenged and tested, particularly in these more vigorous classes. It took more courage, more bravery and more vulnerability to pull back and do less than it was to push past. It’s easy to push beyond the limits, it’s become our societal norm, my norm.
I was being challenged to see if I can be self-honoring in the company of others who are doing more than me. Do I compare myself to others and push myself past my edge or do I honor where I am and just own it? Can I accept where I am, as I am or do I feel the need to do something more to feel good enough or successful? So there I was having an internal battle on the mat and I let myself bow down into child's pose and out of the vigorous flow. I remember seeing a sign once that said, “Do Less More Often” and I got it in that moment.
Don't get me wrong, there are moments when we are meant to push past our edge, otherwise we'd never evolve. But there are moments too when we are meant to pull back from it and be gentle and graceful with ourselves. It's tough getting over an addiction to over-doing and I see women struggling with this all the time with busy lives, full of responsibilities and schedules. As I challenged myself to take a child's pose instead of a sun salutation, I was awe struck in how much this pose was like a mirror of life.
How many of us do the "sun salutation" of laundry, cleaning bathrooms, volunteering, etc. etc., instead of reclining into a "child's pose" and resting or restoring our inner natures? It takes courage to rest. It takes a warrior... a goddess... a queen to assert herself and say: I am at my limit and I need to pull back. And I don't need to do something to be successful or worthy. I am worthy for being, just as I am in this moment. Yet we crave success and validation on the outside, because we have always been celebrated and validated in our doing and achieving. Our worth and value is thus recognized in our accomplishments in what we do. But it's dangerous when we place how we feel about ourselves on external aspects or activities because those can be taken away in a moment, believe you me.
I'm not sure there's anything more honoring and self-loving than listening and giving voice to your limit. This is what we should be celebrating, a woman or child who uses her voice and sets a limit and says no. Or, a person who reflects, creates, writes or finds stillness. Let's celebrate and value the worth found in Being. It is what counts forever, even in the absence of our doing or external success. When we honor our needs and limits, we are allowing ourselves to fall into the arms of Great Mother Divine, supported, loved and feeling nurtured just by stepping into the energy of Being. The heart erupts with gratitude as tears stream from our cores. That is us uniting with the Divine... the art of self-love. That is where we find true self-worth and value, by valuing and honoring ourselves and our edges.
The most wild and beautiful thing I can do is assert what I am feeling and needing in this moment and my yoga mat helped show me the way.
And so it is...