You don’t have to strong-arm through it.

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Fridays are hard. When my 5 a.m. alarm went off, all I could think about was the fact that I’ve been sick for two weeks and can’t shake this melodramatic feeling that my life is falling apart. (Please, let’s be more self-indulgent, Addison.)

Well, instead of following through on my commitment to a tough leg workout at 5 a.m., I slept another two hours (the morning workout fails continue). But come 12:15, I was sweating it out in an Ashtanga yoga class.

The interesting thing about Ashtanga is that it was created to be a self-led practice. Honoring the notion that breath precedes movement. Listening to your body. Focusing on yourself and the direction of your inner teacher.

Ashtanga classes, then, have such a different vibe than the usual power flow class. We are all moving together, and yet, the practice is so individualized.  Take that extra vinyasa if you want, or just rest in child’s pose. Listen to you.

I have to admit, I want to love Ashtanga more than I do love it. Do you know how hard listening to you is? “What does your body want right now?” the teacher says. I don’t know, what the f*** does it want?! We are so used to doing what we think we should with our bodies, that it’s easy to forget what they actually need.

On Friday, what I walked into class seeking most was that intention, that message to cling to as I was leaving class. I found that message. It nailed me right in the heart:

Stop trying so hard.You don’t have to strong-arm through it.

Often in yoga, my teacher shared, we try to power through. “I know I did this last time, so my body must be able to do it today–just push a little harder . . .”

Relax into it. You don’t have to strong-arm through it. 

That dramatic feeling that my life is falling apart? I don’t have to strong-arm through that. I spent the whole 90-minute Ashtanga practice remembering concepts from the mat that I am in desperate need of applying to the rest of my life:

  • Breathe before moving.
  • Accept how you change day by day.
  • Remember your intention.
  • Don’t compare to the person next to you.
  • Take breaks when you need to.

I left Ashtanga thinking that perhaps I’ve been making things a little harder than need be. Is the world going to end if I don’t work out at 5 a.m.? What if my plans for Christmas vacation get overthrown? God forbid, what if I feel like I have to move again? 

Well, yoga says, so be it. You don’t have to strong-arm through it.

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