health · miscellaneous · writing · yoga

Strength Within


I keep avoiding getting overly personal on this blog, but I’ve recently come to realize that this hinders me too much. Things I want to write about get held back because I want to control the audience. Well, no more of that.

I’m about to get real, y’all. Take it or leave it.

When yoga was recommended to me as a good way to start getting more active, my immediate reaction was “no way, that’s so not for me.” I didn’t even want to explore the possibility because I thought I knew exactly what yoga was and there was no way I’d ever enjoy it. I won’t get into my yoga origin story now (it’s like a superhero origin story but with prettier patterned leggings), but suffice it to say that now I happily admit how very wrong I was.

Over the last two years, I’ve been sporadic with it, and kept things very gentle due to health reasons I won’t get into. Now I am on the mend and I’ve found myself craving some more intense workouts lately. Enter Dana Falsetti’s Strength Within online class, available on Cody. The name alone convinced me it would be too hard for me; I felt I had zero strength, either within or without. Plus the class is over an hour long and I barely survive 40 minute long classes as it is.

So the class begins and I’m stumbling all over the place and, just as I expected, I can’t keep up. I’m cussing at myself and at Dana, and I break down crying the moment she asks us what our internal self-talk is like when we are facing these challenges. My internal self-talk is “you can’t do this”. Dana’s hitting way too close to home already. Things are heating up as we roll from Downward Facing Dog into Plank and back into Down Dog. We’re barely halfway through and I can’t do anymore as I’m spiraling into self-doubt. So I give up and come to a seated position; catching my breath, crying, self-hating. I remember telling myself “why do I even bother? My body is not good enough for this, I’m not good enough for this.” The class continues on without me.

The deception of a perceived failure is so, so toxic.

Dana leads the class into some Three-Legged Down Dogs. Reluctantly, I get up and do it briefly on either side but collapse back into Child’s Pose and – with no exaggeration – soak my mat with both sweat and tears. Three-Legged Dog is now being flowed into Wild Thing, a pose I’ve never even bothered with because the inner voice always said “there’s no way that’s happening”. So, as usual, I listen to the voice and don’t bother getting up to try it and just continue sobbing in Child’s, feeling sorry for myself. When did yoga become more of a mental struggle than a physical challenge?

Then, Dana says “If you fall, you fall. Falling is part of every single pose. Sucking at it is part of every single pose.”

This somehow speaks louder than the toxic inner voice so I get up and do Wild Thing on both sides, falling once, then crying back in Child’s Pose (I’m beginning to see why they call this Child’s Pose…). Wild Thing then is flowed into Fallen Triangle (I believe is the name? I had to look this one up), and I get back up into the shakiest Downward Facing Dog I’ve ever done (still sobbing, in case you were wondering). Try as I might, I can’t make it into Wild Thing anymore, so I just go ahead and reluctantly try out Fallen Triangle. That voice is screaming “not gonna’ happen!” just as I shoot my right arm up and overhead, stretching the entire side body in a pose I had never even heard of before. I ended the sequence with a Fallen Arse pose for good measure, but that’s beside the point.

It’s hard to express the mental struggle that went through this 60 minute class. I was sore the following two days after this class, limping around at work last Friday trying to look totally normal. It was the emotional side of me that took the most beating though. Crying on the mat is not completely unheard of (seriously, it’s pretty common, Google it and you’ll see), it’s happened to me before but just in a teary-eyed-it’s-just-allergies kind of way. This particular experience was both challenging and cathartic as I cried hysterically, mentally traversing from self-hate into determination and then eventually pride.

The mental challenge of trying intimidating poses is truly more than the physical battle. It makes getting into those awesome Warrior poses all the more meaningful, doesn’t it?

So, my thanks and appreciation to you, Dana. Last night I had the most glorious fall out of Half Moon Pose and I may be bruised all down the left side today! This time, though, I laughed it off, knowing that each time I show up I’ll get a little bit closer (and hopefully a little less bruised).


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