This morning I returned to my beloved early morning yoga class after a very long hiatus due to a physical condition/injury. I won’t bore you with details. Suffice to say, I had and will have for the rest of my life a situation that prevents me from fully doing yoga the way I like to do it.
I was supposed to be starting 200-hour yoga teacher training this month. Instead, my favorite yoga teacher is recommending I learn to be satisfied with taking classes in “chair yoga” and “water yoga.” I’m not good at being satisfied with what I view as “less than,” but perhaps therein lies the lesson. Another thing I really don’t want to hear.
For the past few months, I have seesawed between anger and sadness — that I can no longer do yoga the way I have always done it, that I have to accept limitations, that I have to let go of my ego in class and sometimes not do what everyone else can do, even people much older than me.
So, anyway, back to this morning… I looked at my bedside clock and saw 5:14 a.m. and realized that, if I hurried a bit, I could get to the Y in time for 5:45 a.m. class. I went back and forth in my head for at least a few minutes before I finally jumped up and starting hunting around in the dark for my yoga clothes. I got to class, settled in, and, as is always the case when I start to bend and stretch into poses, began to unwind, for the first time in months. After class, my teacher stopped to ask how it went since she knows my physical issues and worked with me when I first discovered them.
As we chatted, the conversation turned from yoga to life in general, and I let slip that I really need yoga at this point in my life because there is so much looming ahead of me that scares me. Yoga helps me quiet down long enough to pray. That’s the bottom line here. I need yoga in order to enter more deeply into prayer and, as a result, enter more fully into my own life. And this is what my yoga teacher said (more or less):
Imagine that you’re swinging on a trapeze. You can see the other bar you need to grab; it’s right there. But you can’t get to that bar unless you let go of the one you’re holding at the moment. Fear is that space between, that moment when you’re not holding onto anything. You have to trust that if you let go and reach, you’ll get to the other bar. And she’s exactly right. I am holding onto my current trapeze bar for dear life, watching the other bar swinging and swinging and swinging just ever-so-slightly beyond my grasp. I can almost feel it, but every time I stretch in that direction, I get a bit unstable and pull back, looking down to see if the net is still there, if I have a safe escape hatch.
“What’s the worst that can happen?” she asked me. Oooh, that’s a question you don’t want to ask someone like me. She doesn’t have enough time to hear my litany of What ifs…. So I said the first thing that popped into my head: “I’ll make a fool of myself.” And she looked at me in the sweet and peaceful way that she has about her (because she does yoga all the time) and reminded me that fear breeds fear and that I need to let go and let the Universe accept all the fear that’s weighing down my shoulders and mind and heart so I can focus on something positive.
She said “universe,” but I heard God because that is my Universe. And that is what God asks of me: Don’t be afraid. Surrender. Trust.
What’s the worst thing that can happen? I guess the worst thing is that I’ll miss the bar after all and fall to the net below. Am I willing to risk falling? Do I believe in my heart that God will catch me if that happens? Can I let go and fly through the air with nothing holding me up but trust in God, in the Universe? I guess we’ll find out.