Since I missed yoga class last week because of the wedding I decided I had to go this morning, despite still feeling under the weather. I knew I was going to miss next week's class and it looks like I'm not going to be in the gym for most of the rest of this week and next. I thought long and hard about simply quitting this class, because of missing classes and being very discouraged when I am there, but I am not a quitter. As I mentioned previously, my yoga teacher has been pushing us hard to get the Chataranga pose just right.
We go from downward dog, to plank, to Chataranga, to upward dog, and back to downward dog. I just couldn't seem to hold my hips and belly up while lowering my chest and bending my arms into that Chataranga pose. My arms resist bending that far, holding me up, and my belly ends up dropping and my back sagging into an arch. I was discouraged because everyone else in my class seemed to either be getting it, or getting closer, and my teacher kind of laughed at me for collapsing onto the floor every time. She says "it's not a matter of whether your arms are strong enough...they are. The strength should come from your legs anyway. But it's what's in your head that is holding you back. The stories you tell yourself that you are too weak, or whatever." I wasn't buying it. My arms just seem like they ARE too weak, despite all the weightlifting I do. She wasn't very encouraging.
Anyway this week I am very glad I went. We started with some nice challenging warmup poses and sun salutations that got me encouraged. Then we worked on Chataranga some more, of course, but this time she started out scoffing at everyone. We got out blocks and did the pose with our shoulders resting on the blocks. I could do that well, but most of my weight was on the blocks, not my arms. She actually said I looked good while on the blocks, but then she told me to push up into upward dog from there and I couldn't. She actually helped lift me up and I did it but not without much grunting and groaning. She said "see, you got it there, how was that?!" and I said "yeah but it was freakin' hard!" and she said "yeah, it's gonna be hard, it's not meant to be easy at first." Then I did it several more times, never able to push up off the blocks. She gave us a big lecture about what's holding us back and the stories in our heads about us being fat or weak or both. About girls not having as much arm strength and ab strength as guys. She tried to convince us that it's not true and we have to abandon those stories. I'm still not buying it.
Then I tried it without the block and still could not get low enough, but she looked over and said "it's definately improving!" That was enough for me. I just needed that one word of encouragement.
Then she told us it's "Upside Down Day" and said this is all about facing your fears. She showed us how to do handstands up against the wall, and we paired off to try it. Somehow the only guy in the class picked me as a partner. I knew he had taken the class before so I asked him if he had done this before and he said he had tried but not succeeded. He got into position and I got ready to help his legs up and he goes "Ok now no sexual harrassment!" I got all flustered and said "No problem there!" and he goes "Hey!" as if he's all offended that I wouldn't even be tempted. Anyway he tried it and didn't really get up and then I tried it and he was able to help my legs up for a minute which felt great. The teacher ran over to help me and told me to "look at your hands as you go up, and push the earth away." She commented on how scared I was and that she could see me shaking. Funny, I didn't even notice. I am usually one to confront my fears head on, and this was no different. A couple of kicks were unsuccessful and one even landed hard on my right foot, jarring my ankle and causing it to be sore even now. But then she helped me up and I felt my feet touch the wall and I straightened my legs and held it there for a minute before coming back down. It felt great! She said "it's allright to be jittery" and smiled at me. I helped John try one more time and he almost got vertical and said that was the best he'd done so far. So then John decided he'd had enough of that and proceeded to make lots of small talk with me as we watched the other girls do their handstands. It was a fun class and I decided right then and there to sign up for another semester.