I've always been an adventurer and love anything that challenges me. But I was so nervous to take my first yoga class. I imagined acrobats and ballerinas gracefully holding poses as my tall clumsy tight body stumbled all over.
I have been an athlete my whole life but in yoga there is no ball and no running involved to distract my mind. In college, I finally decided to sign myself up for a semester of yoga. Maybe I thought if I took an intellectual approach, I could master it (my competitive bone was very strong back then).
Interestingly enough it wasn't my competitiveness as usual that arose, it was my desire to relax, to turn everything off. In fact, it was honestly my new ability to lay down in the middle of the day sprawled out in savasana or pressing my forehead to the floor in child's pose. It was like kindergarten again! Yea, I had to work for it, but such is required for all the best things in life. Even now, back bends are some of my favorite poses in part because I get to lay down on my belly or back afterwards… even if only for a moment.
My practice has evolved significantly over the 7 years since then. I still love the ability to melt everything into the floor after constantly finding my edge. The journey of self exploration that yoga offers continually allows me to evolve my body and mind. My journey eventually led me to India in my efforts to explore this new way of life.
There have been several phases in my relationship with yoga. First were those happy nap time memories and the ability to escape the treadmill of thoughts inspired by my politics classes. Then my frustration with how inflexible I was compared to the others. I could barely touch my toes (and only on good days)! Small successes would build my confidence and then my competitiveness would surface again. I still fight the urge to compare myself to the person next to me, but I am learning to acknowledge what type of thought it is and let it go.
As Emerson so wisely said "Life is a journey, not a destination." So enjoy wherever you are on your own journey, even if its child's pose for now. I'm still learning, still growing… and I hope I never stop.