March 29, 2014

Expectations in Yoga Pants and Life

This morning broke a six week stint of wearing exclusively stretchy yoga pants outside of working hours. The spell was broken when I squeezed into a pair of jeans that had been stiffly folded in my drawer for a month in order to dress for a volunteer project. 

Everyone has a standard-issue after work comfy pants / t-shirt look, and I’ve been extra dependent on my stretchy pant uniform since beginning a yoga teacher training program early in February.

With jeans on and hiking boots laced up, my crew of fellow yogis and I trudged out in the pouring spring rain to clear ivy with an Earth Corps group in the wild woodlands of Mercer Island (Seattlites, this surprisingly does exist, if only in a half-acre spread). We’re in week six of the teacher training program and today was our turn to generate some good karma for the world.

As only one portion of a larger volunteer group, our crew had decidedly intense conversation topics. It was the first time we’ve had an opportunity to spend time together outside of the studio, so we not-so-casually chatted about chakras, stress, mental blockers--obviously regular conversation topics during manual labor. The general tone of conversation went a bit like this:

“How’ve you been feeling after Wednesday’s chakra lesson?”

“I’ve been an emotional wreck! I’m intensely sad, I woke up crying and I have no idea why.”

“You, too? Man, I cried like a baby Thursday night and I don’t know why, I couldn’t help it!”

Unsurprisingly, the other volunteers gave us looks  as though we were a troupe of esoteric spirit guides.

Earlier in the week, we had a lesson on chakras, the seven centers of energy inside of the body, and practiced a series of poses that ignited all of the chakras. Apparently it unlocked a flurry of pent up somethin’ in all of us and has left the majority of our class in shock and awe since mid-week. It felt good to know that I wasn’t the only one who felt crazy for having spontaneous breakdowns since Wednesday.  

We all joined the teacher training program for different reasons and we’ll all graduate with the same foundation of skills to successfully guide a flow-style class. The program is two months or so long, with plenty of classroom time, large binders, and yoga workout requirements. It’s a huge time commitment and ripe for expectation-setting.

I had expected a time commitment, what I didn’t anticipate was having to bid temporary farewell to almost all of my friends, especially those living outside of the pacific coast time zone.

I had also expected a big physical demand, but surprisingly I find myself strapped for opportunities to get to class. When I am able to make it, my movements are slow and calculated, leading to perma-bruised triceps from twists and wacky arm balances.

I had naively expected a total life transformation, which in retrospect was a bit like Oprah convincing us all that we can live our best lives by following 10 simple rules and one easy diet. I mean, really?

Yoga is about non-judgement, being present, compassion, and opening up, among other things. Currently, I don’t have enough mental energy to devote to judging anything from what would be good to cook for dinner to critiquing someone's approach or philosophy. The grueling training schedule combined with a busy season at work has shoved presentness down my throat, as I think on an hour-by-hour schedule to stay on top of my game.

As far as compassion and opening-up? Well, I mean my shoulders and hips are super open and I have even more compassion for parents raising kids, who have a schedule a million times more intense than my own. That counts for something, right?

In a few weeks, I’ll have plenty of free time again. Time to plan, judge, and analyze the minutia of a decision; time to happy hour and time to pick out nice outfits from my closet that aren’t 100% Lycra.

While it’s true I’m not nearly as enlightened as I had expected to be at this point (I’m half-joking), ultimately we all know the beauty of experiences is in what we don’t anticipate.

However, it’s safe to expect the common thread linking today to tomorrow will be my gloriously stretchy and colorful pants.