Let’s not mince words, the 30 day yoga challenge was hard. It wasn’t hard to prioritize yoga, that sweet feeling of sitting on your mat and knowing that for the next hour it’s just you and a group of people, in this studio moving through your bodies together, that part was juicy and wonderful. But it was a 30 day schedule challenge and a 30 day laundry challenge and it was a 30 day challenge of meeting my body where it’s at that day, my body, that same body that I was in yesterday, it’s the same body today, as it will be tomorrow, and forever. When I was practicing only a couple times a week it was easy to to come into class, do all the poses how they feel the prettiest and then walk out the door, but when I was coming in every day the corrections I had been working on and the feelings in my body were right at the forefront of my mind. Straighten instead of hyper-extend, Caitlin, pull down the low ribs, broaden the shoulders, Caitlin, use your core to support and un-arch your low back. These certainly weren’t anything teachers were telling me, but the perfectionist, the former ballerina in me, can be very loud. She’s hard to quiet. She’s tough on me and wants to do each pose with effortless perfection, to be in the yoga calendar at every breath.
I wasn’t able to really quiet the perfectionist in me until about halfway through the challenge when I hit a wall. I came home from a class where I felt I didn’t do the poses very well, nothing felt right in my body, my knees hurt and my whole body was tired. My husband came home from work to find me crying on the living room floor because I didn’t want to wash my hair for what felt like the thousandth time that month.
I laugh about that moment now, thank God, but that was real for me on that day. That was before I told ballerina me, perfect and flexible me, to stop ruining my life and let my body be enough. It was before I started telling her that today I need a blanket under my knee, or I need to forgo the flexibility for the safety of my joints, that my body is more precious than looking perfect in that pose for those ten seconds. Once I allowed myself to be open to imperfection the hardest part of the challenge really was laundry and scheduling--not to say I didn’t stop being sore or that I quieted this perfectionist overnight, but once I started to welcome the openness, coming to class and working through the poses and meeting my body became a more joyful habit. I became a little better at accepting the discomfort of a different teacher or type of yoga than I’m used to, and approaching the different voices and teaching styles with thoughtfulness and kindness. By the end of the 30 days I felt softer, more open and forgiving with my body, and if I allow it, I know that kind of openness, and allowance of imperfection, can resonate through to my everyday life.