Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Work hard and be gentle

On Sunday night I contemplated going to Gary's 6:00am class. "Contemplated" means I gave myself an out. If I didn't sleep enough, I would just go to Penni's 9:30am class instead. At 3:36am Monday morning I woke up. I was up for about a half-hour and decided that I'd read for a while, shut off my alarm clock and skip 6:00am so I could sleep longer. At 4:45am I was still no closer to sleep so I decided that I would go to 6:00am yoga after all.

Class was pretty small, only about eight of us. I love the early morning class and it felt great to practice. During Pavanamuktasana, Gary told us to pull harder, harder, harder. Then, during Savasana he said, "Y'know, you can work really hard and still be gentle. Work hard and be gentle with yourself." It was the perfect thing to say at that moment and I've been thinking about it ever since.

I've struggled with perfectionism for my entire life. I hesitate to try new things because I don't want look like a loser. I try to control all aspects of my life so I will be prepared (translation: perfect) in any given situation. It's not a good thing. My challenge in my life right now is to work hard at letting go of some of that control and be okay being (occasionally) in the unknown.

It's really hard work, this letting go business. I find myself being impatient, wanting to be better at it than I am. I'm working on letting go of certain friendships, shedding expectations in existing relationships, being more open-minded and less controlling in all of my interactions. It's kind of an all-day, everyday job and I often struggle. So when Gary said, "Work hard and be gentle with yourself", I felt comforted. Yes! I can keep working on all of these things, but when I stumble, I can be a bit less barbaric with my self-punishment.

Class was great. I worked hard. I was gentle with myself. During final Savasana, I fell asleep. I woke up 25 minutes later when Gary was cleaning the mirrors.
I have fallen asleep in final Savasana only a handful of times in my life. I'm the person who never falls asleep on the plane. I have napped maybe ten times in my adult life. And, being the studio owner, I am rarely relaxed enough to completely check out, so falling dead asleep was a delightful surprise.

I might have fallen asleep because I was exhausted from waking up at 3:36am. Maybe I was lulled into slumber by Gary's familiar voice. I believe both of these things helped. But I think ultimately it was something more, something bigger. I felt a genuine surge of relief when Gary introduced the "gentle" into "working hard." The hard work of life felt a little bit easier. I felt a little bit lighter. Regardless of the reason(s) for it, I loved my unexpected nap. I hope it happens again real soon.


  1. I love this one Laura! This is an important part of growing up and being a healthy human. Perfectly imperfect is my motto.
    Every time I knit something I inevitably miss a stitch or make something longer on one side. But, I decided long ago to leave these errors because it is what makes the hat/scarf/blanket/sweater more personal, unique and real in a homemade way. Just like us.

  2. Molly! What a great knitting practice. I love it! xo

  3. I'm a newbie to yoga altogether, and my first class was in your studio last week -- when I found your blog and read " I hesitate to try new things because I don't want look like a loser. I try to control all aspects of my life so I will be prepared (translation: perfect) in any given situation," I related *COMPLETELY* -- so, feeling a...familiarity with your description of yourself helped me be more comfortable approaching something new (and scary! I'm an utter couch potato terrified to ask my sedentary body to try new things).

    I struggled through my first class with Gary, decided to be merciful with myself and accept that new things can be hard, and came back a few days later. Second time around it was like the skies opened up -- I think I gave myself permission to be gentle while I tried again, and it was an AMAZING experience -- this cubicle rat is a convert (brave enough to try yoga because I liked the way you write and felt like I was learning in a "safe" environment).

    long way of saying "thanks!"

  4. Heather,
    So glad you had that experience. It's a gift when the skies open up, wherever you are.
    See you soon I hope.


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