Sometimes it takes a while to feel yourself part of the group in a regular yoga class. I’m often the oldest person in the room. The much younger people always seem to know each other from other activities or maybe they socialize or work together. So, it’s easy to feel yourself an outsider. Or at least it can be for me. But in a class I had been attending recently, I was feeling more and more comfortable even though I had only yoga in common with most of the folks there. Still generally at this studio, I felt peaceful, good and happy.

 

There Will Always Be Challenges

The class I often attended there could be difficult for me. And on this day, the poses were very challenging. Lots of inversions. I can only go so far with inversions and then I either lack strength or chicken out. We were all lined up against the wall and I found myself between two young women I’d never seen before. Both seemed especially coordinated and strong. Our instructor announced that we were going to try something new and she wanted us to team up with a partner. Lord how I dislike partner yoga! You never know what you’ll be asked to do and there’s always that awkward search around the room for someone to work with. This time however I thought I was in luck. The young woman to my right turned toward me with a smile…… and then stomped across my mat to pair up with the woman on my left.

 

A Blast of Emotion

I felt an instant rush of red hot anger shoot up my spine! And then such a wave of competitiveness! Thoughts raced into my head about how many years I had on these girls, about how it would remain to be seen if they could do these kinds of poses when they were my age. My anger of course was hiding that ugly feeling of invisibility that women come to know so well as they get older. It was an incredible and toxic stew of emotions – anger, even shame, competitiveness, disgust, judgement. And on and on. None of it anything to be proud of.

How quickly all of this had exploded within me, my equilibrium lost. How eagerly and angrily my mind had taken over. A field day for a mind waiting by the sidelines to jump in with judgments, tangents, and drama. And how easily I stumbled blindly in its wake. Finally, I caught a tiny glimpse of the path I was headed down. I paused, removed myself for a moment from the group and began to bring my overactive thinking under control.

 

Yoga Opens the Door

There is something about yoga that allows these channels to open wide. More often than not, I feel that it’s grace that flows. But at other times, those very same channels get clogged with all too human dramas.

All of life, all of spirit, the whole universe right there on the mat.