Sunday, December 19, 2010

Les is More

I've been absent, stressed, overwhelmed and sick. At such times, the yoga mat should be a magnet, a dumping ground -- one of those newfangled mats on which you place your cellphone and it magically recharges to reconnect you to the universe.

I don't know whether I didn't want to connect, or I was so depleted that I couldn't, but for months, now, I have avoided my practice, all the while knowing it was the one thing that would calm my roiling mind.

I lost any sense of my body, and soon began to be at odds with it. When I wasn't focused on a specific task like dishes or taxes, I was scolding myself for being fat, out of shape, flabby, lazy and a big, giant larva-like loser. It got so bad that there wasn't a second -- no matter what was going on - when I wasn't actively hating myself, the self-loathing playing like a bass line under the melody of the moment.

Not that I wasn't accomplishing things. In fact, I've been changing my life, transforming my work, doing a huge volunteer service to my coop and, oh yeah, Jeff and I got married on November 12, after 12 years together. I have three book proposals in various stages, sold an article to O Magazine, was published in the WGA's Written By, and made my own wedding dress by hand, every stitch, every bead. I have managed, after several tries, to make it through Zoloft withdrawal -- which is patently horrible, but I am finally free of SSRIs and hoping my metabolism appreciates the effort. If only we could pay the rent...

But hard times are no excuse. Yoga is available for free. I have four mats, two blocks, a belt, an Iyengar yoga chair, a host of dvds and a chorus of teachers' voices in my head. How did I get so steadfastly in my own way?

I've mentioned before that my favorite class of the week is Sherman Morris's Saturday morning power class at Yogaworks Westside. Every Saturday morning for the past few months, I've laid in bed mentally going over chaturanga, and concluded that my body could not possibly accomplish it in my current state of decay. The thought of holding myself up was exhausting and impossible. So I ignored my friends' urgings to get my butt to class, their worry, their offers to take me to lunch. How could I let anyone see me like this?

All along, though, my higher self knew that the only way out of this depressive stew was to buck up, show up, and breathe.

Yesterday, I did.

I was scared that I would collapse, quivering, on the sweaty floor like a deboned tilapia in a grand mal seizure. That, while adjusting me, Sherman would be unable to restrain an "Ew" as my free-roaming fat rolls rearranged themselves. That I would cry... or die.

I gave myself permission to put my knees down in chaturanga, and to take basic variations if necessary. I hid behind my friend Taylor, rather than claiming my preferred place beside her at the front of the class. Butterflies squaredanced in my stomach.

But when Sherman walked into the room, I instantly felt like I was in the right place for the first time in more than three months (even if my mat wouldn't lie flat for being rolled up so long). From the very first plank pose, I couldn't stop grinning. And when he instructed us to chaturanga, it happened. I took the pose without thought, and it felt amazing. I hadn't lost everything.

I began to sweat out the credit card companies who call me five times a day as if that will fatten my bank account, my anger at a bullying colleague, my concern for my extended family, the dream job I'm waiting to hear about, and my recitative of self-loathing. With every breath, I felt my heart open a little more, and my worries lose their power. Overweight or not, I was still strong, flexible, resilient and surprised.

Inversions were a different story. I couldn't remember how to get my hips over my shoulders. I couldn't process the physics. I was afraid. At first I couldn't decide which inversion I was going to try -- which makes going upside down very dicey. But I pulled out one forearm stand with Sherman's help, and as soon as I got into it -- I found and rearranged my hips, shoulders, upper back, core and head -- and all the reasons I love the practice came flooding back. And nobody said, "Ew." Myself included.

The mat was there for me. And so was my teacher. They had been there all along.

I won't lose my way again.


Anastacia said...

Welcome back :)

I love you!

Quilty said...

Yes! Enjoyed this! I am always amazed at what breathing can bring! You are the best!