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Ego Yoga

Today I did yoga for the first time in a week. Because yoga, strangely, never quite found a place within the Thanksgiving tradition.

Worried that my muscles had become taunt and sapless, I barricaded myself in my little study/makeshift studio and engaged in 90 minutes of power yoga, filled with endless vinyassas, continual downdogs, and unrelenting chaturanga dandasana. I opened my hips, bent my back, rolled my shoulders, twisted my chest, and splayed my limbs to the far corners of the Earth. I squatted, folded, balanced, stretched, extended, rolled, saluted, and stood perfectly still. I inhaled, and exhaled. Ahh, the conundrum of yoga. How can an activity that’s so physically taxing be so very restorative?

In the past year, I’ve steadily become addicted to yoga. I had feared that the initial rush of enthusiasm that blossomed after my first Ashtanga yoga class (which inspired me precisely because it left me a hobbled, sweaty mess) would abate after I realized just how much time, repetition, and leg strength was required to perfect all the cool-looking poses. Yoga isn’t all laying on the ground and thinking about kittens.

The first three¬†months of yoga were a test, not only of my physicality but of my mentality. I had conditioned myself into believing that a punishing 6 mile run was a good workout, so adjusting to yoga forced me to reconsider what constitutes exercise. At first I felt lazy — look at me, laying on a mat instead of pounding the pavement! — but now, after 10 months of diligent, dedicated yoga practice, I am beginning to see the fruits of all of the time spent hunched over a mat. Like, no more knee aches, no more swollen ankles, better posture, better breathing, total anticipation of each and every yoga workout (as opposed to the chore-like dread of running), and some sleekness to my naturally-bulky muscles. I could touch my toes… then, I could lay my hands flat on the floor… now, I’m working on touching my nose to my knees without bending my legs or ripping my hamstring.

Even cooler, three weeks ago I finally pulled off a respectable Crane pose after hundreds of attempts. I could scarcely believe it when my feet rose off of the ground and my torso inexplicably stayed put. I felt a vague urge to break the staid concentration of the yoga class by drawing attention to my triumphant arm balance, but I was content to silently relish in having my knees securely perched within my armpits. Now, I can’t stop doing Crane pose. I even go into gratuitous Crane pose. In class, I glance around at my fellow participants, proud that I’m now in the elite club of Crane attainers. But I try not to let my head get too heavy, lest I topple over onto my face.


This is not me

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