Back in the olden days I was an avid climber.
Oh, and also? I was a terrible climber.
I fared better indoors than out, but really that isn’t saying much.
At rock gyms I tried to muscle up the wall.
I attempted to force my way to the top.
I never stopped to read the wall before I began.
I never paused to map out a plan or path in my mind.
Outdoors I did pretty much the same thing.
Brute force. All out exertion & muscle.
I tired quickly. I made poor hand/foot hold choices.
I had potential to be better (or so I still like to believe).
I never got out of my own way.
During my recent return to yoga I unknowingly followed the same damn pattern.
I was decades older.
I’d gained enough wisdom to know to check my ego at the door.
When only the “with weights” class fit my schedule I consciously chose to do class sans-weights.
I knew my current
baggage limitations provided resistance enough.
And yet, I hadn’t learned.
The lesson I’d thought climbing taught me years prior (read the wall! read the wall! the boyfriend would shout) went forgotten.
In class I worked too hard.
I struggled with balance poses.
I fought them.
I forced myself to find a drishti and try again and again and again.
I wobbled. I fell. I wouldn’t give in.
This was my approach until an instructor stopped me as I left her class and said:
You need to find the space between effort and ease.
Intellectually I knew what she meant.
Bio-mechanically I couldn’t find my way to making my body listen.
And so I stopped.
I didn’t warrior or tree—I watched.
I observed classmates who were precisely as I was: trying & forcing.
I witnessed others who slid effortlessly into poses, breathed through them, and held without visible struggle.
Focus on your breath. Anything else you achieve is icing on the cake.
A perfect ending to this post would be to say Ive found (my breath and) my space and reside in the bubble between effort and ease.
I have not.
What I have learned, however, is to relax into sensations regardless of the pleasure or discomfort they offer.
To not muscle my way through/use strengths I already possess (literal or metaphorical) as I only succeed in making those stronger and allowing my weaknesses to wither further.
To loosen my grip enough I still move forward (without brute force) and yet am at ease enough to be fluid and, if need be, adjust my course.
I’m not there yet. I’m not certain we ever permanently are.
As with fitness, marriage, motherhood and the rest of life I imagine it’s something we must recommit to each morning and love ourselves through not quite getting there each night.
- Have you succeeded (even fleetingly) in finding the space between effort and ease?