Sitting…hardest thing ever

I could do the power poses, like chataranga to plank and back, no problem, but sitting, that was the hardest thing ever.” -Boof

A long discussion about the culture of working out, what workouts we feel geared toward (it was mostly a rant against the Crossfit obsession from Boof’s perspective) led me to say that yoga is really where I feel at home. I’ve been running, but yeah, yoga feels right. And when I do it consistently I see amazing strength and flexibility in body AND mind. And Boof encouraged me, because he said, “Yoga is the hardest workout I’ve ever done, and you’re built for it.¬†It ¬†comes naturally to you…the flexibility and balance. I could do power poses all day, like chataranga and plank and back, no problem, but sitting, that was the hardest thing ever.”

We were getting ready for bed, and so I let the conversation dwindle, after laughing about how right he was about the sitting part. Though he was talking about the physical. With years of playing intense sports like football and running on the treadmill without stretching, his body is strong, but also tight. He cannot sit “criss cross applesauce” on the floor on a normal afternoon, though after 9 months of yoga with me, he was able to. But it got me thinking about the other aspect of sitting, the mental, emotional and even spiritual act of…just sitting…that is, in fact, the hardest part of yoga.

Sitting.

Sitting.

Not doing anything.

Not faceboooking, or blogging, or thinking of facebooking, or thinking of blogging. Not getting up to clean the living room or giving in to the urge to watch the latest DVR’d episode of The Voice. Just sitting.

My husband thinks I’m good at it, that it comes naturally to me, and maybe he’s right in the physical sense, that my legs are flexible, but he’s wrong in so many ways. Sitting is hard, and I struggle with it, probably more than he realizes. My mind is like a manic hamster on redbull.

Because sitting is the hardest thing ever.

Sun Salutations: Motherhood Series

Spring in Seattle 2008. Well before I became a mother...

Spring in Seattle 2008. Well before I became a mother…

My daily sun salutation poses are a little non traditional. There’s the:

  • Roll Over and See What time it is Pose
  • Baby on Boob before he screams Pose
  • Putter to bathroom with toddler on hip Pose
  • Cheerio pour and high-chair monitor Pose
  • Wipe snot/spit/mushed up food stain on clothes Pose

And for the balancing pose sequence, there is the:

  • Hold everything in one arm while closing the door and beating back the crazy dog with the foot Pose, which is known for maximizing the glutes, thighs, abs and arms, with the mantra “is it really Monday?”

Sure, my yoga looks a little different than yours, but it’s about strength and flexibility and maintaining mindfulness in these moments that is helping me cope with motherhood as a backslidden yogini. Because, a traditional practice gets interupted…like last night when I was 8 minutes into a 15 minute sequence and Potamus refused to go to sleep to music/back rub with daddio. He wanted mama snuggles and that was that. And so there, in the middle of Warrior 1, I became Mama Warrior #1 and vinyasayed my booty into the back bedroom and did a little shavasana with the little man.

Today I feel stronger and more present than I have in a long-time.

My First Sun Salute

Sun Salutations

My first sun salute happened at age 16. Obsessed with all things India, I checked out this yoga book from my school library, because I had this desire to do yoga, but was super freaked out because of my fundamentalist Christian parents and the upbringing that equated yoga with devil-worship. But I felt called to do yoga. I can’t explain it, other than something in my heart and body said, ‘try this,’ and I had to follow that calling.

So I fumbled through a sun salutations, in secret, at night, in my bedroom. It was hard, looking at pictures from a book and trying to figure out how to link the sequence or figure out the right alignment without any verbal directions or hands-on tweaking. I fumbled on until the book had to be returned, and I smuggled it back into my library to not be checked out again, by me.

Not willing to risk delving deeper into yoga, I gave it a break, for about a year, until a summer or two later when I came across an excellently marketed product called iFit yoga, that had stripped the Indian spiritual and philosophy, from the asanas and made it appealing as a form of exercise. I snapped up the packaged mat/block/strap/bag and audio CD, and began practicing for 45-60 minutes every night (again, in my bedroom, in semi-secret). I felt more open about my practice, but focused on the exercise benefits.

My practice has waxed and waned for years. Whole years have gone by where I haven’t actively practiced asana, and simply focused on breathwork, or philosophy, or at the very least, simply reading yoga magazines and wearing yoga pants to the grocery store.

But I miss it.

The asana practice, that is.

So, today, while Potamus was sleeping, I did some asthanga yoga to a youtube video. It felt hard, and good, and right. And it also felt a little bit scary. Because I’ve been on this journey for years, and I love it, and it feels different than running, because it feels like it hits my soul in a different way. I avoid because it’s hard to go inside myself and feel things I don’t want to feel and be exposed to the big picture of suffering and complexity that seems overwhelming. Why this happens during yoga and not other exercise (yet) is a mystery to me, but there it is. In some ways I am still both drawn and frightened by yoga, as that teenager fundamentalist was drawn and frightened. For different reasons.

The ebb has come back to flow, and I think I might do asanas more regularly. And I want to expose Potamus to yoga, but that’s a whole other post for another day…