I made the decision on Day 2 to skip the morning meditation and just come for the practice. I showed up feeling guilty, even though I knew I’d made a healthy decision for myself. Sleep was more crucial for fighting my cold and there wasn’t enough of my voice for chanting. However, I underestimated the travel time and showed up slightly late, creeping in during the beginning wrist stretches. As Ana started to set the intention for the day, I almost started crying. I hate being late and I felt so bad about it. “Here I am a Forrest Yoga teacher–and a certified one at that, yet here I am showing up late. I should know better. Who am I to think that I can be a good Forrest Yoga teacher when I can’t get it together?”
The intention for the day was working with an emotional issue. Gee, from the above paragraph, can you tell that there might be some ongoing emotions and self-deprecation that need addressing? Ana reminded us that when we’re working with an issue, it’s usually one we have to continue working with. Part of working with it is becoming aware of that self-loathing, critical voice that arises about how we should’ve gotten over it by now, etc., etc. “When that crap that you tell yourselves arises [notice, she didn’t say if],” said Ana, “Tell yourself, “Yeah, I’m not doing this today.”
Still wanting to cry, I was not happy with this intention. Sure that’s fine for other people to stop that self-degredation, but in my case, I deserve it and if I let go of feeling bad, then I’d really not have it together. For those beginning moments of the class, I truly felt like it was impossible for me to do.
But Ana has a way of getting you to do what you don’t want to do. So I started small. I figured I’d work with an intention of staying out of self-deprecation and feel for getting a more balanced and accurate perception of what I was experiencing in my emotional and physical body, but only for the duration of the practice. Sometimes I had to make it even smaller than that, “Okay, I’ll work this intention, but only for this pose.” One pose at a time, I continually tried to bring myself back to breath and out of the ongoing loop of self-criticism. At best, being in that spot is just not at all helpful with moving towards change. Or as Ana might put it, “That’s worse than useless.”
Backbends were the word of the day. We made use of a lot of props to get there, working a lot of boats and cobras while squeezing a block between the feet to keep length in the low back. Ana also combined the rolled-up mat with the block and us place the roll right between the ribcage and pelvis and lay over it for cobras, boats, and bow pose. “This gets you into your shit,” Ana said. “Literally.” From there we progressed to bow with a strap and wheel, playing with wheel walks (walking forward and back, in a circle while in wheel pose). I had fun with a group of us on the floor guiding an upside-down woman beside us trying to maneuver her wheel in a circle. Forget logic problems; wheel walks are the ultimate brain teasers.
Some tears came for me at the end of class and it was wonderful to have a fellow Forrest Yoga teacher there to give me the compassion I was struggling to give myself. I mopped my face, blew my nose, and set off for taking my intention into that next breath off the mat.