I have never been a patient person. When I stand in line at Duane Reade for longer than five minutes I feel angry at the happy magazine covers at the checkout counter, and although they say a watched pot never boils I've always thrown my pasta in at the first sign of a bubble.
But impatience isn't a comfortable feeling. It's certainly not an emotion I seek out, which is why I've avoided arm balances for as long as I've practiced yoga. I was never one of those people who just "floated" upside down. I couldn't walk around on my hands, and my dolphin pushups didn't turn into beautiful forearms stands. When I attempted anything of the sort, I ended up jumping around furiously and eventually reverting to child's pose and making a mental grocery list as I waited for it all to be over.
I remember taking a Tuesday night class a few years ago in which my guide would try to turn the class upside down for at least half an hour, and I would conveniently slip out to get a drink of water or go to the bathroom. Once I even hid in the supply closet and called a friend. Eventually, I just stopped going.
So when I walked into Strala last Saturday and was told I would be spending a full three hours balancing on my hands and arms, I got ready to flee. It wasn't too late. Maybe I could convince them to give me my money back!
But as I looked around at the friendly faces of my guides and new friends, I planted my mat on the ground with conviction. It was only three hours, I could grin and bear it.
Sorry to spoil the ending for you, but I didn't become a master of inversions in three hours. I fell a lot. My arms buckled. When my classmates told me I was "almost there" I would grit my teeth and tell them I most definitely wasn't.
I did improve, though. One of our guides continued to advise us to find the "ease in the effort," and what initially sounded like gibberish began to click. Arm balances were hard, and that was why they made me so impatient. They would take effort, but if I eased up on myself both mentally and physically I might get a few steps closer. After a few deep breaths and a decision to break free of my impatience, my attitude started to change. I got a significant amount of air under my feet, and I didn't topple backward and break my back. The best part? No bathroom breaks.
Having semi-conquered my biggest yoga annoyance and, let's face it, fear, by Sunday I felt energized and ready for the week ahead of me.
But work hit me with a new set of challenges, one being a team effort to improve the headlines on our page. When by Thursday afternoon I felt my headlines hadn't improved in the slightest, I was ready to lie down on my keyboard and give up for the day. I could identify the feeling immediately, of course -- I was impatient. I wanted to be good at headlines at that very second. I didn't want to keep trying a failing for another week or month.
Instead of gchatting my editor to tell her I was a useless human being (she's great with the pep talks), I took the same deep breaths I had taken before attempting a forearm stand on Saturday. I wasn't a headline genius, and I probably wouldn't be the following day, either. But I would never get anywhere unless I eased up on myself and continued to try.
So I tried. My next headline was just as imperfect as the headlines before it had been, and my editor changed it before putting it on the page. But hey, my arm balances had improved when I had a little patience. Why would this challenge be any different?
Thanks for tuning in. Until next week, yogis!
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