Inhale, reach up to the sky. Avoid falling backward. Exhale, fold forward. Avoid falling on my face. Inhale, lift one leg high up to the sky. Avoid ripping tights. Exhale, stretch one arm to the front. Avoid falling and breaking neck.
My mom, who has been practicing yoga for 20 years now, calmly touched her forehead to her knees, while I tried desperately to grab onto my foot. My dad, who can smoothly transition into a headstand, was flexing his muscles. And me? Cowering in the corner, panting and dizzy.
I learnt one lesson at that memorable first yoga class - I had not inherited the family yoga genes!
I returned to the studio another day – without the family. I struggled to contort my body into some semblance of the demonstrated poses. But that hour spent on the yoga mat was an hour spent not worrying about how many words I had left to write for my VUCA essay, where I would copy this week’s microeconomics homework answers from (shh), or when I’d meet with my BGS group. It was one hour of choking and gasping for air, nevertheless it was time and energy spent solely on my body.
I follow several yoga and travel pages on Instagram, where women are balancing at impossible angles and holding impossible poses. They transition effortlessly from downward dog to a handstand to a split! I am almost convinced they have been photoshopped, because obviously the human body isn’t capable of stretching that much. But clearly, it is.
Holding a complex pose in yoga is an achievement that comes with practice. I like to see results NOW, which can’t always be the case. In life, as in yoga, there will always be projects or plans, the results of which will only materialize much later. At times like these, it’s easy to lose sight of the goal and forget why you’re even doing it (Phew, SMU) . In times like these, it is important to know that your effort matters, and that it will eventually get you there.
Yoga has taught me to be patient. It has taught me to keep pushing myself – fold an inch deeper, balance a minute longer. Now, after months of practicing, I can see that I am more flexible, and I grasp the technique more easily. It taught me that you can’t give up every time something doesn’t come easily to you. If I gave up every time I couldn’t imitate the instructor’s poise, or every time I lost balance, or felt like my body would collapse, I would have walked out of the studio and never turned back. Each drop of sweat that fell on the mat made me want to push harder.
My goal for the end of the year is to be able to do a headstand. I’m making perceptible progress. I can lift my legs up halfway, without any support. It’s distant, but it’s a tangible goal. Plus, the super expensive (and pretty) yoga tights help as motivation! So here’s my advice: Just breathe. Or get upside down and the rush of blood to the head will make it all okay.
And if yoga is still not your thing, well I can’t bend over backwards to convince you!