Wednesday, July 9, 2014

It Takes A Lot of Courage

that deep longing to be seen as I am and accepted for it. I was reminded just how much courage it takes to show ourselves, uncertain as we always are of how we will be received. -Marianne Elliot

I love yoga, having  practiced at home off and on for years. It makes me feel strong and centered, and is  a good juxtaposition to the running I also love. While my body craves the relentless forward momentum (just keep swimming) of running, it also craves the stillness of being on the mat.

I finally found a wonderful teacher and small class where I can get out of my house and get some much needed personal instruction. I was lifted up  after the first class when the instructor told me that she could tell I have done yoga before. Especially heartening since 98% of my practice has been on my own.

Yesterday however, I found myself nearly in tears on the mat. While the other ladies in the class were going from tree pose, to lotus, to toe stand, my little tree was whipping around like it was caught in a hurricane.  I was a little frustrated but took a deep breath and told myself that frustration was not going to make my tree any more secure and tried again. I tried to get to lotus and fell over. The teacher remarked, "where you were in tree was perfect for you" (while everyone else was in toe stand, mind you.) She came over to me and started to talk me through tree again. This is where I nearly welled up. I felt like a big old dunce cap had been placed on  my head. I wanted to leave and could actually feel my body shutting down, could almost hear all my armor slamming shut against my chest. I told her, "no, it is ok. I don't want to hold the class back. If they are ready to move on that's fine," I kept apologizing. "Welcome to remedial yoga, I'm sorry, we can move on."

"They're fine, I 'm working with you now."

Another deep breath to let it all go and back into tree pose. I reminded myself that two weeks ago my little tree still had to be rooted with my toes and that today my leg was up on my thigh.  The instructor gently guided me through tree in reverse prayer, which I got and was able to hold for five breaths.  Then we moved on to crow and I promptly fell on my head, but without all the negative trash talk going on IN my head.

I obsessed about the class the rest of the day. Do I quit? Do I talk to the teacher? Do I stuff my feelings and possibly begin to dread yoga class? It wasn't until I read the above quote later that afternoon that I realized I did exactly what I was supposed to do. I let everyone see me, vulnerable and wobbly, unsure how I was going to be received: This is exactly where I AM! Would they laugh, become resentful? I didn't realize how brave that had been. Instead of being shamed and shutting done, I was brave and I'm proud of that.

So you go you little wobbly, but brave tree, fly your vulnerable yet brave flag high!

To learn more about Marianne, courage, and yoga, please visit


  1. Hey, it was Marianne Elliott - or rather her e-course - that got me back into yoga after years, well nearly a decade. She is super at encouraging us to accept our body, the process, the flaws which are not flaws but just our current state... I love her attitude of: if you have no time and just do five minutes make it the Savasana!

    Have you tried to look at the time that the tutor spends with you as "Wow, I'm lucky! I am actually getting some-one-on-one teacher time during a group session. I could be paying $ xx for this..."? It may lift you out of feeling embarrassed to feeling fortunate.

  2. Hello Mrs. M!
    Thank you so much for your comment. Yes, I love Marianne. I have taken her yoga class, 30 Days of Courage and her Zen for the Holidays! Each one has been amazing.
    Yes, I do feel very lucky that our class is small enough that the instructor has the time (and inclination) to work with us one on one. I also now feel that she wasn't singling me out but gently meeting me exactly where I was with a gentle nudge out of my comfort zone- I had done tree pose before but never in reverse prayer!

    As far as crow...We were in this squatting pose and she was talking, kinda just hanging out when she suddenly said, "and this is where you can go from here.." It was pretty amazing.