Opening Your Heart

I have edited this post several times before publishing it, in an attempt to say what I want to say, and not come across as negative. That is not my intent. I simply wanted to share my observations and feelings after I attended the John Friend, Dancing With The Divine workshop this past Wednesday morning. John Friend, is the founder of Anusara yoga,and has a worldwide following. So here goes...

Before the workshop began I looked around at the people seated ready on their mats, their faces openly excited, openly eager for things to begin. I wondered briefly if I was the only one experiencing John's teaching for the first time. Because of similar workshops I have attended in the past, led by Moses Brown, I was not surprised to see that John looks like a regular guy. Up on stage he comes across as friendly, approachable, and funny.  Fellow yogis around me assured me that I would be back, and next time for the whole workshop, not just the one seminar.

As I listened to his opening words, I have to admit, I let a little doubt creep in. Should I really be there? Was I going to be out of my league? (After I had initially signed up, they changed the requirements of the workshop from mixed level, to intermediate, and one of the requirements was to be able to do wheel pose unassisted.)

I cannot do wheel unassisted. But as a yoga student, a yoga instructor, a yoga lover, and a total believer in yoga, I reasoned that I would do my best (even push beyond that) and I would be fine. Five years of yoga practice had to make me more than a beginner, right? Well, maybe not.

No one could ever call me a flexy/bendy gal, but I really have come a long way toward some measure of increased flexibility in my practice. So acknowledging that I would be unable to fully do everything expected of me at this workshop, my goal was simply to learn. To soak up ideas, phrasing, and insights from John Friend and to better my personal practice and my teaching.

It became apparent to me partway into the workshop that I wasindeed a bit over my head. And I found myself beginning to lack confidence. And then we got to the backbend portion. I'll be honest, not only can I not do wheel, I have a dislike of backbends. They hurt my lower back. But I know the rule, the less you like a pose, the more you should do it. So I always try.

I open my heart, I soften, I curl, I pull my shoulders back, I attempt to pull my thighs back and apart, root my tailbone, all that. But I reach a point and I get stuck. Many helpful instructors have tried to help "move" me into a better position, but that hurts even worse.

So as my attempts at wheelgave way to just observing others doing wheel around me, I felt a bit discouraged. Don't get me wrong, it was exciting to see some beautiful yogis do some absolutely beautiful things with their bodies. But I knew that it wasn't going to be me. At least not on this day.

I have a personal goal to be able to do wheel unassisted, but I am also a realist. And the reality is that I have extremely tight muscles. Hamstrings, quads, shoulders, hips, I am pretty much tight everywhere. I always have been. That's 49 years of loosening I need to achieve! And can I just say that having an extremely (almost weirdly) short torso, combined with long arms and legs, and bad wrists does not help in this pose either? Excuses? Maybe.

But maybe, I know my body, my limits, my limitations. Because isn't that what yoga is about? Honoring your body and going only where it allows you to go?

What I think disappoints me most about this workshop is that I left it not feeling inspired. How can that be? What is wrong with me? Or was I just truly...out of my league? Thefollowers of John Friend might say that my heart was not open, that fear held me back and that there wasn't enough trust. Maybe they'd be right.

All I know is that in the past, the Moses Brown workshops I've attended have left me feeling good about myself, despite my limitations. Like I had done my best, and that by doing my best, it was more than good enough. It was perfect. And as a result, I was inspired to be better, work harder, to be more open to Grace. To open my heart more to the possibilities.

As our bodies are unique to us, so I guess, are our sources of inspiration. No offense to John Friend or anyone else involved, this just wasn't my cup of tea. I am not sorry that I went, but I doubt I would ever go back.

And in all fairness, I guess I did take away something from this workshop.  I never want anyone to feel that doing their best, is not good enough. As a yoga instructor and a lover of yoga, I firmly believe in the honor your own body philosophy. We are all created differently, uniquely and perfectly ourselves.

Yoga is a journey, a work-in-progress....and folks, I realized after this, I have a long way to go.