I’m having a very bad day.
I’m hearing that in Lisa Simpson’s voice and the humour is a nice relief from the intermittent crying over the futility and pointlessness of my life.
I’m bored by my despair and its persistence.
Welcome back, yoga.
I’m doing my practice wrong, of course. Depression prevents sustained attention so I’m not doing long series and sequences. The self-hatred also impedes. Who am I to think I can do yoga with such an imperfect body? Give in, give up, fade away. Instead, I decided to keep my mat on the living room floor and break practice up into manageable bites: some downward dog now and some cat-cow later.
I bought myself a superfluous red tray to store my yoga magazines in, so the eight-dollar Ikea coffee table I bought on Marketplace looks classy, not cluttered. I’m turning the living room into an ersatz yoga den which I can then hate for my design fails.
I’ve been rereading the magazines for reference, bored with my versions of Warrior II and pigeon pose. I came across a sequence I’d avoided the first time I saw it. Some trauma-informed thing that got my back up. I don’t always lean into the discomfort. Today, though, I thought maybe I’d try the hip-opening poses.
Luckily, it’s not exotic. A birth defect and a childhood illness have left me hip-challenged. Sukhasana, or “the easy pose” is as good as it gets – no lotus for me. I don’t like it anyway. I’m extremely uncomfortable, my knees are nowhere close to the floor, and the top of my feet hurt. I feel like a defective child; how pathetic is it that I can’t manage “crisscross applesauce”?
It’s a whole “bad hips – fractured spine – I need an excuse to bail on the challenging” thing.
Because it is challenging, and the longer I hold the pose, the worse it gets. The pose is not causing harm. It aches but the challenge is mostly mental. The mantra is “quit”. And it gets louder the longer I maintain in this space.
My brain seeks the easy way out and my body wants to cave. It doesn’t like the stretch and the push and the burning and the work. It doesn’t like the way it feels in the inner hips, in the outer hips. It doesn’t like the vulnerability that I feel when I expose my core.
My body feels wild the longer I hold. It can’t figure out what to do to accommodate the discomfort, especially in the face of my intransigence. Maybe we should shift our weight more forward? Or back? Should we rock? I stretch up to the sky a little more every few moments to counteract the ease my body seeks via slumping.
Sustaining in the face of the discomfort is hard. Holding the line is a misery inside my head. Agitation grows. I start to feel wild and the tiniest bit feral. I think about screaming. I can’t possibly get through this. Ten more seconds. Ten more seconds and then I can bail. Part of me is expecting the quit. That’s who I am, isn’t it? A failure, a quitter, hopeless. The insults bounce around in the background of my brainpan.
The voice trails off or maybe it keeps going. I don’t know. I stop paying attention. Something is happening. The tension in the joints is worse, it’s more than I can bear, I can’t stand this. This is ridiculous, I don’t know how to do this, how to stop fighting. It will never ease. I will die from the discomfort of sitting with my legs crossed.
And then it’s gone.
The body stops fighting. The brain sighs in relief. I relax, all over. My range of motion doesn’t miraculously increase. I don’t miraculously slide into a perfect version of the pose. But the battle ends. This is acceptance. Ease and peace. I am.
In the pose, in the moment, in the headspace.
Persistence is not always futile.