Tuesday, June 20, 2017

I suck at Yoga and that's a wonderful feeling!

This is not bragging just a realistic assessment: I am a person with multiple intellectual and artistic talents. There are not many things that I have tried in life that I could not learn to do moderately well with a modicum of effort. 

There were two negative consequences to that: First, because I could do many things pretty well with a little bit of practice (like playing piano, or  understanding mathematics) with a few exceptions I rarely put in the kind of concerted, long term effort it takes to get really outstanding. I've been content with being above average on many things but not really excellent at anything.  Second, on the rare occasions that I encountered something at which I truly sucked (like playing guitar), I very quickly gave up. 

So yoga is a whole new experience for me.  I'm over Medicare age, morbidly obese, with extensive osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis; my disks are deteriorating, my rotator cuffs in both shoulders scarred from multiple injuries, and while my knees and hips aren't ready for surgery yet, it may not be long before they are. I haven't tried any exercise beyond walking since 1989. So I truly suck at yoga.  

My first yoga lesson (four weeks ago) was nearly my last. By the end of the first lesson, when I couldn't come near doing any of the exercises or postures - except for the breathing - I felt I had no right to take up space in a yoga class or the time of the yoga instructor. At the end of the class feeling depressed and humiliated I went up to the instructor to apologize for my miserable existence and say that I would not be back. But before I could get the first word out, the instructor (a truly amazing young woman) put her finger over my mouth and said "NO! Stop! You are NOT allowed to criticize yourself here." I don't remember everything she said next, but I left that room knowing that I would keep coming back and that it didn't matter if I continued to suck at yoga for years to come, as long as I got some benefit out of it. 

The incredible thing is that even though I still can't do anything at all the way it's suppose to be done, I can see tiny improvements and I feel so good at the end of each lesson, despite sucking so completely. It feels like a huge life victory to keep doing something even though I'm terrible at it.  


3 comments:

Richard Bondi said...

My experience as well. I also love Tai Chi for the same reason. Not sure if there is a program near you, but once we are over 65, most plans cover the Silver Sneakers program, which has classes geared to our advanced wisdom �� I do Yo-Chi and Zumba. Thanks for sharing! Richard

Maureen Morton said...

Great story, Sue. I had similar issues, but started with chair yoga and water yoga and loved both. Now I can do regular yoga but I use a small stool for assistance with some moves. I commend your willingness to try and your kind instructor.

Sandy said...

Good for you, Sue!I have never tried Zoga, but my doctor suggested Tai Chi for better balance, so I am doing that.
Are you excited about the new phase of your life? What else have you lined up to try?