Ninety-five percent of the time I practice yoga I am deeply resistant at the beginning of class. I feel the weight of my life on my shoulders. I see the long dark hallway of physical exertion and mental focus stretching out in front of me, and I have the strong desire to run from the room. My beginning of class mantra is, "only 90 minutes." I remind myself that that's a blip in time when I consider that I was in labor with my daughter for 42 hours.
Pranayama feels interminable. How am I going to DO this? I feel a little bit more calm for a split second when the instructor say, "last two breaths." Then comes the half-moon series. Arms up. Straight spine. No. No. No. No. NO! I don't want to do this. And it is three parts. Half moon then backward bending then forward bending. And then, come ON, a second set?!
At some point during the half-moon series, I lose some of my resistance. I stop so actively fighting with myself. I still struggle, but it is different. I'm in relationship with the struggle. My body and mind seem to be in it together. Somehow, the fact that they are keeping one another company makes it easier. Like jogging with a friend. The physical and mental are a team, each carrying part of the heavy load.
By the end of the awkward series, I am just about committed to this craziness. I still have to push away my tendency to calculate how many more minutes I'll be in the room, how many more postures there are, but I'm not so actively in resistance. Something has shifted. Eagle pose comes next. I'm madly in love with eagle. It's so efficient. We're doing so much in just one posture and it's sufficiently hard and doable.
By the time the balancing on one leg series comes, I can't really remember why I balked at the idea of practicing. It's not that it's not hard. It is. Really hard. It's that suddenly I am lighter. I am no longer the lone Sherpa of resistance. Posture by posture, I have slowly discarded weight from the over-stuffed backpack I started with.
Once I hit the floor series for my first Savasana, I have actually let go. Any residual heaviness sinks into the floor below me and I feel lighter right away. Like everyone, I have ups and downs during the floor series but the mental heft is almost undetectable. Like a piece of hard clay that's eventually malleable after lots of kneading, I'm finally soft. I'm there, in the room, in my practice. And so it goes practice after practice. I start heavy, encumbered, resistant, questioning my ability and strength. Then I slowly break it all down. I leave lighter, carrying less, looking forward, ready for the next thing.