All we can control is how we choose to show up

Today is a Tuesday, which means it’s a yoga day. It takes a lot to get me to go back out when I’ve got in from work, particularly when there’s snow on the ground, but I’ve pretty much spent all day looking forward to it.

Today our fabulous teacher was focusing on how we deal with stress, how we can choose not get stressed in different situations, how to focus, how to be calm, how to deal. Whatever crazy new pose she threw at us, we breathed, we considered, and then we did what we could.

Probably one of my favourite things about yoga is how often in every single class, Laura starts or ends a sentence with “it’s okay.” When I first tried it, not really sure whether it was going to be for me but to be perfectly honest, feeling like I’d try anything to feel a bit more levelled out, I remember really clearly lying on my mat and Laura telling us that it was okay if we couldn’t do much more than that, we’d showed up, maybe that was all our body could offer us today, but another day we’d be able to do more. It is OKAY. Just taking an hour out of the day is an achievement sometimes.

Although there’s always a focus, a theme, to the sessions, I tend to take away my own lessons, maybe depending on what I’m battling with. Sometimes it’s acknowledging what I can do, when I’m tired, when I should try a bit harder, sometimes it’s being open to new ideas, it’s taking control, doing poses to strengthen my back instead of berating my body, not comparing myself to others around me, or judging, or worrying what I look like.

There’s a lot of take-aways there.

I was expecting today to be me making peace with my rubbish hips, because of the positions we were doing and the fact that I know my legs just don’t have the strength or flexibility for me to do what the others do and it normally frustrates the hell out of me. But no, today was about:

1. Live and let live = do not glare at the heavy-breather man for being distracting, doing his own thing, and breathing heavily and enthusiastically on his special mat. Okay, maybe a couple of times the irritation crept in, I’m sure you can hear it in my words, but I tried. I focused. And I’m sure I’ll be reminded of it next time I want to sigh at someone for doing things differently to how I would do them.

2. Be present = do not look at the clock. I only did once today, and trust me, that’s an achievement. I annoy myself with it, because it’s not like I’m bored or want to leave. It’s just a combination of normally being very aware of the time, how much time is left, and wanting to get home to my husband, my dinner, my warm house. This is one of my constant battles, and I enjoy class the absolute most when I’m so involved I don’t sneak a glance. (Note to self: maybe position myself somewhere other than my usual corner, where I’m not directly opposite the clock?)

3. Switch off. This is a big one of yoga. One of the reasons I enjoy it, as I explained to a colleague the other day, is that I get an hour where I’m so focused on what I’m trying to make my body do, that I forget to worry about our heating, or tomorrow’s meeting, or the damaged sofa. It’s not hard because you’re literally too busy doing something else. But when you slow down, rest, take a moment, then it can be hard. But it’s not just switching off mentally, it’s also quite nice to put. the. phone. away. I’m using it seconds before class, and the minute I step out. I was even looking forward to not having it on me for an hour today! As if only by going to yoga can I disconnect! Silly fool, I can turn it off WHENEVER I WANT. It’s ironic, because I can actually be a bit useless with it, I forget it or leave it on silent and then tend to start spouting my well-practised “why do people think they have the right to get hold of me whenever they want?” speech. I used to say this ALL THE TIME. I think I need to take a step back from the phone. And spend more time on my mat.

Also, I completely stole my title from my yoga teacher. I know she won’t mind.

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