Photo credit: Just Chaos

Photo credit: Just Chaos

I went to guru Jeff’s class in Tempe again this morning and same me, same body, but totally different class and totally different experience. He was great as usual, and the class was all about “radical responsibility”. He kept on telling stories and vignettes about how stuff happens in life and you choose how you react to it. You can either react as a victim and make excuses or be responsible.

Within the context of the class, you could either blame the reason you couldn’t hold a pose on your mat being too slick (that’s what I was thinking) or your hands being too greasy from having lotioned up with vaseline (again, my thought) or because the person next to you is in your space or whatever.

It was a very mentally challenging practice. As I went in this morning my toes were still tingling and numbish from dancing in high heels and my thighs a bit sore from the same. I had pretty much already decided that I probably wasn’t going to do all that well today and seriously considered doing the level 1 class instead of Jeff’s class.

Literally about 20 minutes into the practice I was ready to flee and be justified that I’d done my 15 already. In a sense it turned out to be the perfect practice for me, because it was all about releasing the judgment, assessment and resistance to life.

So I stuck it out, fell over a few times and whined (internally) a bunch, like when my foot slid down my thigh in tree pose (that’s not my fault, that’s the fault of the material). Oh and I was sweating up a storm…to the point where there was sweat dripping on my already slick mat.

I had to choose to continue to practice without judgment or blame and not have my sweat be another reason that I wasn’t being super yoga studette today. That was the practice today – to not make excuses, to not rail against the unfairness of the world, to simply be present with whatever shows up.

partner yoga
Just as I started to let go and go with the flow, he did a couple tricky things that challenged me. He’d have us hold a pose and then say “ok, three more breaths” and i’m thinking “ok, three more breaths, I can manage” but then he’d keep talking way beyond the three breaths and I’d notice myself starting to get pissed that he’d lied to us.

That is of course a natural response from someone who’s merely trying to survive the 90 minutes with the majority of her pride in tact and not the thoughts of someone engaged in practice for the sake of practice.

As the class went on I noticed how automatic my survival mode is and just kept giving up my judgment and anger and struggle and even managed to smile and let my gut hang out of my too short shirt.

Just when I’m hitting my groove, he threw in the next monkey wrench of having us do partner yoga (with a stranger). The first pose involved starting out on all fours butt to butt with one person doing cat /cow while the other person arched on top of them into camel. Then we did another one, also starting in table pose cheek to cheek. One person placed their shins on top of the other person’s back to go into first plank, then dolphin as the other person did down dog.

Even though I was all “hell no” when he demo’d it, it turned out to be a pretty cool experience. But you can get it was just one thing after another designed to challenge us.

So that was the practice today…practicing being peaceful, being the source of your own peace of mind no matter what life throws at you.