I've noticed lately how I have gotten so comfortable with my routines and places, going only where everyone knows the coffee I order and what yoga classes I prefer, and I know I can predict for the most part what my day will look like. I want to meet more people and see more places and mix it up every now and then. So listening to the encouragement from a couple of my yoga teachers, I decided to check out a new studio. Outside the perimeter, outside my comfort zone.
I don't drive in traffic, I avoid the highway at all costs and never commute to work at normal hours so I thought I was above traffic. I set out knowing that I would be traveling in rush hour, trying to head the same direction as every single person in metro Atlanta at 5pm, but for some reason I thought I could win this game. Silly girl. I pulled out of my apartment complex into a sea of break lights, but I pushed on, determined with all my might to merge onto 75N. Just as I finally squeezed my little car onto the interstate (after sitting on the ramp for about 15minutes or so..) it started to pour rain. I mean the kind of rain that comes in sheets not drops, so thick you can't see anything more than a few feet in front of you except the steam that swirls off the hot asphalt in reaction to the buckets of coolness sweeping over. A real summer afternoon downpour - which I usually would love; relaxing on a porch, watching the storm unfold, telling a story with each lightening crack and thunder boom. But at that moment all I could think was how stupidly everyone was driving around me with the limited visibility and slicked pavement; how this rain, this beautiful huge cleansing storm, was going to make traffic suck so much worse than I predicted it already would be.
An hour later, I started to panic when traffic was stuck at a standstill and I was still nowhere close to the studio where my first class of the night was set to start in just 15 short minutes. Anyone who is, or knows, a dancer knows that we all play life by the rule "if you're on time, you're late." We have to be 10 minutes early to any class or rehearsal of any sort to really feel grounded and prepared. It's just dancer etiquette. I let the anxious anger and frustration rise as I fumbled with the GPS on my phone trying to find a quicker, easier route. Then it hit me. This drive was my first yoga class of the night. A drive that should have been around 35 minute but ended up being 2 hours, yes this drive was my yoga. The universe was testing my patience and watching my reaction, asking me to tune in. I called to mind the quote we have written on the chalkboard at DYP at the moment. "Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured." - B.K.S Iyengar. I had to acknowledge the fact that I was going to miss the first class I had planned on taking, then let it go. Acknowledge that I was going to be sitting in traffic for at least the next 30 minutes and that there really wasn't anything I could do about it, and let it go. I had to remind myself that there was still another class at the studio that night that I was looking forward to taking, and I would be there SUPER early for that class.
Perfect! I felt like I had just passed a test with flying colors. Look at me being such a yogi. Look how good I can let go of things. You almost had me, but I won this one universe! I was all set, I was ready to kick this next classes ass.
I walked in, all confident in my obnoxiously loud printed pants, lululemon mat in tow feeling like I could take on the world. I wasn't so prepared for the opposite. I guess my smug reaction to passing my first universal test brought light to the need for another. My ego. The studio itself was so beautiful, when walking in I felt so "Pretty Woman" in my funky hippy dippy pants and throughly loved but clearly overused mat. As my friend was still teaching the class I should have been in, I had the realization that I didn't know anyone at this studio. I know almost everyone at DYP, mostly because of checking them in while working the desk, but also many of them are my good friends I practice with and take class from. I started to feel more out of place. I started to wonder if I was good enough to even take this advanced class I earlier confidently signed myself up for. I started to feel the need to prove to everyone that I was good at yoga. The instructor walked in and started us with an inversion at the wall. How's that for small talk. Down to the dirty stuff right off the bat. 3 minutes into class I'm dripping sweat from the backs of my arms, which were already shaking from supporting my entire body weight upside down. This is gonna be fun. I started looking around the room at the beautiful strangers around me who so perfectly flowed from pose to pose, inversion to extension without even blinking an eyelash. I'm supposed to be the best one in class. Not here. I struggled to make myself complete every vinyasa and attempt every inversion, feeling more and more upset every time I had to rest, or back off, or didn't know the sanskrit for a pose that others immediately eased into with no demo. I looked at the one other new woman in the class and thought at least I'm doing more than this poor chick who's been in child's pose for half the class - at least I look more bad ass next to her!
Then I realized, this woman was so much more yogi that I. She was comfortable enough with her ego to know when her body needed a rest, and didn't seem affected by my inappropriately placed joy at her repeated rest sessions. I let my competitive self take over my practice, feeling defeated and judging myself and others. I had to learn a lesson from this sweet yogi who through the understanding of her ego allowed me space to step aside from my own. This class was so challenging both physically and mentally, but I left feeling so full of joy and understanding.
While stepping outside my norm today I was faced with challenges. I was reminded that I get comfortable in my ways because I can avoid conflict this way. But doing something different and unknown and uncomfortable, as scary as it can be, always teaches me something new about myself, or reminds me of the good things I already know. Life is always going to bring up another challenge for us to face, but it is how we react and respond to these tests that matters. :)