December 1, 2010

Be comfortable being uncomfortable

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I took my first yin yoga class last night. While I have practice yin for about 18 months on my own, I thought it was necessary to try it out in a class setting. It was mostly to see if I was performing the poses correctly and to gain ideas for future home practices.

The instructor in this class was a substitute. My usual teacher, who I've had off and on for a year, is on vacation this week, so I was excited to have a new instructor. What I expected to be a 75-minute slow flow session turned into a three-hour block of pain and meditation. While there's not much wrong with that, I wasn't expecting to stay in a meditative state for 90 minutes. On average, I can't go beyond three minutes of silence and clear thinking (thus, the challenge of No. 29). However, the time I spent in this state was mind-numbing and reflective. 
The first 10 minutes was in shock. I sat crossed-leg with the right foot in front, and my hip and right knee were immediately killing me. The earlier poses already stretched out my quads and hip flexors, so my hip was internally kicking my rear. I thought about coming up with a mantra to get my mind off the pain. Then I was thinking when would the instructor end the class or when will someone get up and roll up their yoga mat. But here were five people just sitting in easy pose as the instructor went on with her own meditation. I had a million things to do after class: pick up groceries, grab a quick dinner, do my second half of exercise for the day. I thought about the two bottles of ibuprofen I had in my purse. I had no time for meditation.

Soon after, I said to myself, "I hadn't been in meditation this long before." It was time to take advantage of this. I squirmed around a bit to find a more comfortable position before settling on my back. No more torture for the hips. Reflected on the silence in the room, the calmness in the room and the unusual humidity for a late November evening. I was satisfied, but I still thought about my poor hip. 

Then someone finally got up and said goodbye. The rest of us collected our things and before I headed out the door, I saw that it was much later than I thought. It was 10 p.m., not the schedule 8:30 dismissal. My hips were roaring back at me, and if they could form fists, they would have punch me in the mouth. I was satisfied with my practice, especially the meditation part. I had to learn about finding comfort in pain in order to achieve peace.

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