“Come to yoga,” they said.
“It will help you unwind,” they said.
“It doesn’t matter that you can barely touch your toes,” they said.
FUN FACT: Yoga is much more enjoyable when you are flexible; don’t believe the hype!
To be fair, I am a type A, team sport, competitive chick whose physique has seen better days, so when my friend suggested yoga, I immediately dismissed her.
I routinely avoid getting on the floor because getting back up is always a humbling experience.
But upon further reflection and the realization (after hauling 23 Rubbermaid tubs of Christmas decor down from the attic) that perhaps my aching body and frazzled mind needed a lot of work and a little perspective, I gave in and signed up for a class.
I may have physically bristled when the instructor introduced herself as “Wisteria,” but I realized quickly that I was already committed to this class and my cynical inner voice had no place in Namaste Land.
As I began to set up my mat (with all the strange paraphernalia that comes with a yoga session) my baffled look set off a flurry of help from the expert yogis already in the room. I felt my holiday spirit begin to soar.
Surrounded by straps, blocks, and a body pillow (which I was super jazzed about) and serenaded by soft music, I began to take in my surroundings.
No one here was a rookie. I felt like the Cleveland Browns watching the New England Patriots warm up!
As Wisteria led us through the first series of exercises (whose proper names still escape me) I began to think about the holiday season and how I typically approach it by letting myself get overwhelmed. As military families, we are often in strange countries or states miles away from family. I have friends who stress over which set of families to visit every year, and I have friends who will be spending the holidays without their soldier. There are unit functions, holiday parties, charity and volunteer work, church functions, and school productions to schedule.
Not to mention shopping and cooking and wrapping (OH MY!).
All of this was weighing on my mind when I looked up and saw Wisteria in some type of pretzel position that reminded me of what my tangled tree lights look like every year. I began to wonder if she even had any bones in her body!
As she watched me struggle to mimic even a tenth of her positon, Wisteria gave me a piece of advice that rocked my world.
“Just use the blocks or the straps if you are struggling,” she said. ‘That is what they are there for–to support you.”
After another flurry of help from the yogi masters around me, I also was in a somewhat “pretzel-like” position thanks to the straps helping me do the work. When we finished with that series and moved into a gauntlet of even more humbling stretches, I used my blocks to balance me and if you didn’t look too closely, I was hanging in there with the class.
After my last “Warrior Pose” (which was my favorite by far for a myriad of reasons with the greatest being I could actually get into that one) I found that that my mind had cleared out the cynicism and was free to make some connections.
Straps and blocks exist in our everyday life; why don’t we use them?
They may take the form of friends, family, services, religion, faith, exercise, self-care, or the simple act of saying “NO, it is too much,” but they are there to help and support us.
Why do we continuously get ourselves into overwhelming positions of stress and not reach for our blocks and straps?
These thoughts began to fade as Wisteria got us into position to end the class. I finally got to use the heavenly body pillow as we got comfortable to cool down. The pain and frustration had left my body and when Wisteria came around and placed a cool lemongrass-scented washcloth on my forehead, I vowed to practice Yuletide Yoga all year long.
Use my straps. Use my blocks. Stay focused on what is important.