Sitting in child’s pose, in a dark candle-lit room anchored by strong, pulsing beats, yogi Alex Sharry shared her observations moving into the new year. We’re just expected to move forward, she said, whether we’re craving a fresh slate or we’re scared to leave a great year behind.
We don’t have a choice of whether we move forward, but we can choose do so mindfully. She asked us to notice our habits in class and examine whether they are serving us. Taking it further, we’re to try to ignore any habits that aren’t serving us and honor ones that are. I wasn’t entirely sure what she meant by habits, but okay. I’d try.
Though I’ve done yoga on and off for fifteen years, I hadn’t taken a class in a while and never at Y7. I’d heard good things (far before the girl from Girls started going) but had no gauge on the intensity level. It ended up being perfect for where I was that morning — a few familiar vinyasa flows broken up by fresh variations and a handful of poses like half moon (and even more so, standing splits) I find particularly tough because my hips aren’t flexible. Wobbly as ever, I trembled and lost my balance constantly. More than usual.
When faced with a challenge, I feel two often opposing energies and when things start to get tough, the negative voice somehow amplifies. It says “Don’t go any further. You’ll run out of steam too quickly.” Or insists, “Nope. You will fall down and hurt yourself. Just let up a little to get through.” Meanwhile the quiet calm from inside says, “Just do it. Suck it up. Discomfort is a prerequisite to the next level, and it’s so temporary.” That encouraging voice was loud and clear before class but in half moon it’s reduced to a whisper.
In this particular instance, my inner voice wasted no time in judging the subpar performance. “You’ll never be good enough to nail this, or ever do you 200-hour if you continue to teeter like a toddler. OY!”
I now understand what the instructor meant by “habits.” When our inner voices express similar sentiments on loop, whether they’re positive or negative, you actually start to believe them. This is the same doubting, nagging voice that comes up whenever you consider accepting a challenge and when it wins, is almost always followed by a contracting feeling — like you’re on the outside of life looking in. How awful!
The beauty is we do have a choice, half the battle is reminding yourself when you’re knee-deep in the struggle.I let go of it. I ignored it, I didn’t listen, I proceeded to move into and through half moon pose, shaking, faltering, it wasn’t pretty. But I was able to hold my balance for a few seconds. I felt my hips stack, wingspan in a relatively straight line and I went for it. Small victories.
I’ve found that using the comfort zone as a tool can be helpful in abandoning the nagging inner voice. Not in the sense that you’re mentally chilling in child’s pose while your body plugs through the motions, but rather as a driving force. Remember it’s there and give yourself permission to surrender afterward, reminding yourself that what you’re facing is temporary and worth it. No matter how hard you push, how fast you go, how long you hold, your recovery awaits. It’s a constant. Let it propel you as far away as possible in that moment, which may help you extend a little further. Inevitably, that nagging voice will come up. Acknowledge it, ignore it, remember the space and tuck it away in your mind, allowing yourself to be fully present wherever you are.