Anxiety and ego (and yoga, of course)

My husband and I take turns with our “yogas” over the weekend, since we can’t leave the six-year-old alone and also can’t bring him with us (although I’ve been tempted to bring him to my small Sunday yoga class to freak out the teacher).

The hubby’s been playing golf a lot recently, and I know it makes him happy, so I encourage it. Living where we live is not exactly his first choice, but the more he’s got his own thing going on here, the more he’ll feel at home.

But anyway, I digress. So yesterday he went to play an early round of golf, and I found a class at a different studio that matched his schedule.

I’d been to this studio before, and I was a tiny bit hesitant to go back. One of the teachers at Edge, my regular studio, had recommended Rocket Yoga to me. She knew I liked arms balances and inversions and thought I would have fun with it.

Tap, tap, tapping my wall.

Tap, tap, tapping my wall.

The first time I went to this place I chose an “advanced” Rocket class because it was the only one I could fit into my schedule. I figured I’d do my best with the poses I hadn’t mastered yet and still get good practice in with the poses I have mastered.

I don’t know that I’ve really fully described my level in yoga, but despite my practice being fairly sloppy (or perhaps because of it), I’m pretty comfortable with some advanced poses. I’m particularly good at arm balances, and I have a couple of inversions I can do out in the middle of the room (without a spotter or the wall). I can also easily do a handstand against the wall, as well as a forearm stand.

Everyone has their own version of yoga, and I’m more comfortable with these poses than I am with some of the fundamentals, like Chair or Tree.

So, you know, while I haven’t nailed most poses perfectly, I’m adventurous, I’ve developed some upper body strength, and my interest in these kinds of poses has led me to get a few of them in my practice that I wasn’t even close to doing when I started.

Now. To say that I was the least advanced person in that Advanced Rocket class would be a GROSS understatement. Let me show you a video of what every other student in the room could pull off with ease:

Don’t get me wrong, I had a phenomenal time watching the others do amazing things with their bodies. I’ve been practicing long enough to realize, of course, that everyone there had spent more time and invested more effort into mastering these moves than me. If yoga has taught me anything it’s that you can accomplish just about everything with practice. But I knew I was in above my head, and because I spent the majority of the time watching people rather than practicing, I didn’t get a ton out of the experience (other than sheer admiration at the things I will eventually be able to do, if I’m interested enough to pursue it).

Needless to say, I never went back to that specific class. But yesterday I went to another Rocket class at the same studio, and this one was much more commensurate with my level. I was, again, probably one of the least advanced students there, but not so far behind everyone else that I couldn’t challenge myself and get a few good tries in at things I’d never attempted before.

I’ll be honest. I pride myself on not being easily intimidated, and on not getting hung up on the “who’s better than me” game. I genuinely enjoyed watching the more advanced students when I was there the first time. It wasn’t discouraging or frustrating at the time, and it didn’t make me feel any worse about myself. They’d had more practice and had built up more strength and balance. That’s all.

But when I walked in the door again yesterday, I felt more nervous than I expected. I had a lot of anxiety about whether the class would be appropriate for me this time around, even though in yoga there is very little risk to going to a class that’s too advanced – you just do what you can that’s that!

I got on my mat and felt insecure. As the class progressed, and I realized I wasn’t hugely out of place among the other students, my insecurity eased. It was a wonderful class in the end, but the physical symptoms of my anxiety hung around me all day (and as usual, I went about my business and did my best to ignore them).

A very dear friend of mine said to me yesterday – when you take ego out of any situation it usually brings the picture fully into perspective. I guess my ego reared its ugly head yesterday as I walked in that door. I guess my ego made me feel less worthy, which fueled my anxiety. I’m working on defeating that ego, but I guess I still have a little ways to go.

I’m putting that Rocket class in my regular rotation, by the way. With a little bit of practice, I’ll be pressing up to a handstand in NO time. In the meantime, I’ll keep using my trusty wall to help me practice. 🙂

Ready, set, PRESS!

Ready, set, PRESS!

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