I just finished the third weekend in my yoga teacher training and while my hips are sore and my body is tired, my mind is very much alive. I’m sitting here in West Elm Market at Brooklyn Roasting Company’s cafe drinking a coffee and having a Dough donut treat as I write this so I’m feeling very Blogger-ish and cool. The best part? They allow dogs so Bella is on my lap, it’s funny that wherever we go, she gets way more attention than I do. Over the past few weekends I’ve learned about what yoga is not just on the physical level but on the life and spiritual level. I’ve learned about sequencing, ways to find balance in the poses for the body, and ways to start assisting. I’ve also done a shit ton of yoga, day in and day out, yoga and relaxation and meditation have been built into my life.
This past weekend we had a discussion on Pema Chodrin’s When Things Fall Apart one of the books on our reading list. Like most of the things I’ve been reading and practicing while at home, it’s the group discussions that bring illumination to it. I realized in the discussion just how many people connect with her ideas and could use some help coming to terms with the fact that everything, both the good and bad, it’s all okay. She gives you permission to not feel like you need to fix things, but just live in the moment. It’s one of those books you can read at any time and find something to relate to, for me it was the perfect book at the perfect time in my life; let me tell you why.I’m injured. The week before training started, my right wrist started really hurting. If I’m being honest, it started hurting about a month before that but I ignored the whispers until it full on shouted at me to lay the hell off. So I did, for a few weeks, then when it wasn’t really healing, I went right back to practicing, thinking fuck it, I’m not letting this hold me back. Guess what? It started getting worse, no surprise there, but worse to the point that even double wrapped with support my arm was shaking whenever I was in plank or push up pose. Needless to say, it was time for a doctor, and the orthopedic specialist I saw let me know that I need to stop thinking I can “walk on my hands”, told me to rest it for a few weeks and gave me a really annoying immobilizing sling brace that was specially fitted. Ligament issues, ugh. The good news, my wrist is still fine, so long as I lay off, stop trying be to a tough girl, and let my body heal itself.
After the doctors appointment, I broke down, called my mom and started crying on the streets of NYC. Really classy. It was a breaking point for me though. There is an aweful lot going on in my life right now (that I haven’t even written about yet), and this brace, the order to stay off my hand, it was like the icing on the cake. All I could think about was how unfair it was when I’ve waited 3 years to do a yoga teacher training and now I couldn’t even fully participate. Then this weekend, when we started talking about the book, I realized this too shall pass. All the overwhelm, all the feelings of everything happening good and bad at the same time, it would pass. And guess what? I’m not the only one who was injured this weekend. We yoga people have this tendency to push when we should pull back. So the teachers directed us to really slow it down, give 25 % instead of 125% how does that feel? Listen to the whispers. I could try to make my injury a good thing and recognize it as an opportunity to learn how to modify and how to take care of myself, to really get to the essence of the pose since I’m not in the thick of it. But that’s not the point, the point isn’t to try to make something better, it’s just to acknowledge it for what it is.Here is the other thing the book and consequent discussion made me realize. All feelings are okay. We don’t need to brush anything under the rug. It’s okay to feel the way you feel, whether good or bad. I’ve been stressing about a lot of the changes happening with my job, with where I’m living, with having every waking minute filled up with classwork, mental work, and physical work. The people I talk to about this keep stressing that it’s all for good stuff so I shouldn’t let the stress get to me. Okay yes, it’s all for good reason so then I feel guilty for complaining about the stress. But after this weekend I realized that those comments were actually making me feel like my feelings were unacceptable. I felt like I was being invalidated. Though the book I realized that all the feelings, whether good or bad, are okay. It’s natural to feel that way and that too shall pass.
When I was at the doctors, waiting to check out, the receptionist came up to me and saw I was reading. She asked me with a huge smile, “are you reading anything good?” I showed her the book, not thinking anything of it (hello the title is When Things Fall Apart Heart Advice for Difficult Times) her expression immediately changed, she did a double take, a look of concern coming across her face and blurted “well is it helping?” I didn’t know what she meant for a second, I thought the book was pretty cool, but then I realized oh god, she thinks I’m depressed I have to fix this. I explained that I had to read it for a training, nothing wrong here. Then I proceeded to cry on the street. See the problem there? Denying what you need, denying what you are feeling, means living inauthentically. Caring so much about what others think that you invalidate your own feelings and feel bad about yourself? No Bueno. Change takes time, relearning patterns and habits takes time. But me, I’m intrigued, and a book like this, it came at the perfect time into my life to help me accept just where I am, in this moment. Do any of these ideas resonate with you?