Perfection is the enemy of progress – Winston Churchill
I’ve been going to yoga twice a week since February. And I firmly believe I am the World’s Okayest Yogi. I even have a shirt that says so. This is a title I wear with pride because it is against my nature to do things I am not good at. I hate not being good at things. And I am not good at this, but I keep going back.
Usually if I am bad at something, I stop doing it. I prefer to redirect my efforts toward something with more return on investment, I tell myself. But really, being bad at stuff is just uncomfortable and embarrassing and I don’t like it. I know that it takes a long time of being bad at something to get good at it. I tell my kids that all the time. And I don’t LIKE to be a quitter. So I am going to keep doing this.
Not until I am good at it, but because I’m OK with being bad at it.
The class I go to is heated (not technically hot, although it’s usually mid-80s to mid-90s depending on the weather outside) and kind of, dare I say, athletic. It’s technically Power Vinyasa or something like that. It’s hard and sweaty. It makes me feel sort of badass, and even when I am falling over and everything hurts, I love it.
The majority of the other participants are younger (so much younger) and fitter (quite a bit fitter) but they are kind to me and don’t give me the “What the hell are you doing here?” vibe that a middle-aged fluffy type might expect in such a crowd.
For the most part, I don’t think anyone is actually looking at what I am doing. I know I barely register what other people are up to unless I am pointing the wrong way or they are taking some ridiculously advanced option that needs to be acknowledged. I am not ever taking that option and I am pretty sure no one cares.
When the bendy people do this thing called “bird of paradise” – stand on one leg, put the other leg up in the air, now sort of hug yourself around the crotch area and balance there – I am notably impressed. When I fall on my butt during the “squat down until you are sitting on the ground without using your hands” pose, no one flinches.
I can’t do the wheel, handstand, headstand, or shoulderstand. Any kind of upside downy thing requiring arm strength + balance is problematic. I can do a armstand/headstand in my basement if I can kick my feet off of the couch – sadly there is no couch in the yoga studio.
The camel pose gives me heart palpitations. Leaning backwards freaks me out. I do it anyway…but it’s scary as hell.
Yoga is a combination of strength, balance, and flexibility.
I am fairly strong, although my shoulders don’t want to play along, but they are getting better. In this class we do so much arm stuff – planks and pushups, side planks and down dogs and up dogs. It’s a lot. I am getting stronger, I can do it all (mostly) without falling on my face. But I have to pace myself so that my shoulders don’t just say “nope” in the middle of it all. So I drop a knee here and there, shake things out, take a deep breath and then get back into it.
My balance is hit or miss, there are days when I am solid and others where I lift one foot half an inch off of the ground and immediately wobble. I blame gravity. My balance nemesis is a pose called Half Moon, which involves standing on one foot, the other leg perpendicular in the air, one hand on the floor and the other hand straight up. Sort of like you were ready to hug someone and fell over sideways. I can get the arms mostly right (leaning on a block since my arms don’t reach the ground), my leg is sort of up there, but balancing like that seems practically impossible.
I am not at all flexible. I can barely clasp my hands behind my back. My toes seem really far down there in relation to my arms, which I think are of T-rex proportions. When the words “split” and “straddle” and “reach back and grab your foot” are mentioned it is difficult not to laugh. I do the best I can and over time I’m sure this will get better. But if it doesn’t, that’s OK. It’s still good for me to try.
I am not the most outgoing person, I don’t really talk to people out in the world unless I know them. But there is definitely some sort of non-verbal bonding that takes place when you are standing on one leg with your arms twisted like a pretzel while sweat pours into your eyes. I make witty conversation like “Wow, it’s hot.” Being social is hard.
Despite the challenges, or maybe because of them, I keep going back. I show up, which is important. I do the work to the best of my ability, even if my abilities are vastly limited. I am working more than my arms and legs, I am working my “being OK with being OK” muscle.
And that is pretty amazing, I think.