My Ego Hates the Bow Pose

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I can finally do this pose for twenty seconds on one foot. 

I have been reading a lot about yoga because I don’t have a gym or a studio I go to. I am learning on my own. I research every pose before trying it. In my reading, I’ve come across countless articles about ego and how ego can lead to injury. I am not going to assume that people injure themselves because of ego.  I could injure myself because of concentration issues and definitely my horrible balance. I have to admit feeling as if someone would need a small amount of ego to try some of the poses, like a handstand. A handstand could be significantly dangerous if done wrong. I have yet to attempt one because I’ve only worked up to thirty seconds on my planks. I am shaking still at second twenty five. I think I need to be able to do the plank for a lot longer if I am ever to do a handstand. I am working on buffing up my arms because I have trouble with pickle jars. I mean I love pickles, but it’s more about the functionality of having arms that can lift, move, and open things. Being able to do a handstand would be just a fun by product of that.  I think it might be years before I try a handstand. I am not putting myself down or pushing my dreams down.  I just have to know my limitations.

Why is so much literature out there about how not to get hurt with yoga and how to put your ego aside? Is that because we so often want to share our practice with others? I do find myself bragging when I have mastered a new pose. Sometimes it is a little ridiculous because I can only do the very basic moves. It’s like a sixteen year old bragging about being able to tie their shoes. I’m like, look at me I can do a twenty second plank! My ESL class was counting me down while I was showing off. All of them shouting 1, 2, 3 etc., when they said twenty I got off the floor to shouts of jubilation!

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I know it looks like I’m bent but it’s just my butt.

I don’t think it is bad to revel in the accomplishments but I think it’s important for my practice that I sort of marinate in the process of getting there. The vernacular is being mindful but I don’t think that is even appropriate. It’s more like savor. While working into the poses I don’t just want to be mindful of where my body is placed or how my muscles feel. I want to love how they feel. I want to enjoy it so much I feel the need to slow down and honor the way my body feels.

I’ve been desperate to open my hips up because of they are in pain. I do a lot of poses that stretch my pelvis and open my hips. In addition to Bound Angle Pose, Hand to Big Toe Pose, Reclining Bound Angle pose, countless upward dogs and many more hip openers, I heard that downward facing dog with stacked hips is one of the best hip openers. So I watched a video how to do it. After the video I went to my mat and started my practice. About seven poses in I usually do downward dog, but this time I lifted one of my legs held it there for ten seconds and then flexed my foot and bent my leg. I did exactly what the video told me to do. Boy did that feel good… at first. I was really enjoying it so I tried to deepen the stretch and then felt a ping of pain. It wasn’t a major pain. It was just a twinge that I knew could have turned into a major injury if the twinge hadn’t shocked me into stopping. As it was, my right hip was sore for about two hours. I was lucky. After researching the pose more thoroughly, I realized that I didn’t square my hips right. Was it my ego that convinced me to try a pose I hadn’t properly researched or desperation or both?

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Close but not bow pose
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It felt closer than it looks

Is it ego that lets me try yoga at all? I am a plus size person who has no previous exercise experience. What business do I have trying something that seemingly only thin impossibly beautiful people can do? At least that is what I used to believe before all those wonderful plus size women blew up Instagram like Dianne Bondy, Jessamyn Stanley, and Dana Falsetti. So I think there is a little ego involved in doing yoga at all, on many layers.

There is a challenge to starting any exercise and then continuing it after failing at exercise over and over. In yoga I have failed a lot. Not only is my downward facing dog with stacked hips a failure the first time, but I can’t do a bow pose to save my life. I can’t reach both feet behind my back at once. (I can’t do many poses. Bow Pose is just the one I am working on now.) The only way I can continue with my practice after failing so much is not to look at it as failure. I have to look at it as progress. Just getting on the mat and getting closer is a big deal.

I used to quit exercise at the first sign of failure but now I inch towards things I never thought I could do. Savoring where I am now is what makes me able push through the doubt, but also temper my enthusiasm. Research and living in the pose, not just keeping my mind on it, but thoroughly enjoying the pose is the only way I am going to avoid a downward dog debacle again. It’s the difference between stretching, like To The Oldies, and yoga. This “mindfulness” should be inherent in the process, right? Maybe instead of my Ego getting the better of myself, I just lost sight of that. I will remind myself every time I get on my mat, that if I am taking the time to do this, then I better really appreciate it.

I have been hired as exercise’s PR representative

I am lying face down on the itchy carpet in my apartment wondering if they have replaced it since Clinton was in office. Brad is gasping and grunting trying to move himself into the next position. No this isn’t coitus on the floor. We are going through a series of stretches every morning and evening in order to decrease the muscle pain I have been going through. Right now it is an amalgamation of all the stretching we did in high school and some of the yoga moves I did in first year stage movement. We are stiff and breathing heavy. I have problems when trying to stretch my arms and shoulders. My shoulder s pop and resist. Husband has resistance when doing the bend and hang stretch. It isn’t glamorous or easy for us. We are just trying to get started. The TV is primed for the show we are going to watch after and the only sounds are my breathing heavy and Brads exertion grunts. Not exactly the most restful environment. I think we need to change that.

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What my husband affectionately calls the stretching and farting pallet.

When I was in grade school I had a brilliant second grade teacher, Mrs. Goodness. She was as good as the name implies. Everyday we would start in the morning with singing and dancing. At the time we thought she was the most magical and indulgent teacher. Now I know she was wearing our little bodies out, expending childhood energy in order to calm our minds to better focus.

The most miraculous thing she did was make reading a treat. After song and dance time, with such standard fair as “the ants go marching one by one,” we would hit the work of the day and then reading hour in which we could spread out on pillows or in corners of the room and read whatever we want. The treat was, if you were the most well behaved and the best in the class that day, you got to read in a place of honor. Mrs. Goodness had a platform in the middle of the room that held a large claw foot bathtub with pillows inside. I have never worked so hard to accomplish a goal. I was a spazz. I mean my mom set up the original embargo on soda, necessitated by her sheer exhaustion. It was not easy for me to be calm, quiet, and outwardly studious. I think I only made it into the tub once maybe twice. Certainly, all those other days I envied the people in that tub.

How remarkable to make reading a reward. So many times reading is the thing you do to get pizza or some other prize. Mrs. Goodness made the act of reading alluring. There is no power in the verse like a teacher, right?

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Pretty light…also helps with the aforementioned farting.

I want to do this same thing to exercise in my mind. I want to rebrand it for myself. Why can’t I make exercise indulgent? I don’t know how many times that I have rolled my eyes when some starlet or actress says something about how exercise is a meditation, me time, or energizes them. I have never felt that. Exercise makes me tired, sweaty, and cranky. I feel put out and resentful.

There are people who feel this way about reading, and I always look at them like they are crazy, just like some people reading this are thinking I am crazy. Maybe like Mrs. Goodness did with books, I need to rebrand exercise for myself. Those stretching sessions with lovely husband need some fine tuning to be the energizing, relaxing experience everyone recommends. So I am going to get some blankets to make the ground softer, pillows to relax on in between sessions, and have my husband create a relaxing play list. He is good at that. Maybe I will even go all hippy and burn some relaxing candles in the back ground. (We know from watching Scifi that all true meditation needs candles. How else can you accomplish a successful Kelno’reem? What would Vulcans or even Klingons do without a Pier One?) Maybe the full spa experience will turn my head around to exercise. Maybe I will crave it like a good book, or maybe I will go with the sex on the floor idea.

Kelno'reem
Kelno’reem