I’ll never forget one time when I came out of a deadly yoga class, sweating hard, seeing doubles, and sat down in the cool-down area at Bikram Yoga White Rock. There was a student sitting there, having also just finished class, watching me as I teetered over to the bench, dripping my sweat on the floor, and sat down to put my head in my hands. It was a rough 90 minutes.
The words he spoke have stayed with me since that day, probably four years ago.
“I have to tell you Jen, it sure was nice to see you falling out of postures today.”
We all fall out. (This is a picture of my old friend Frankie doing just that in a photo shoot a few years back.)
I propose that whether or not you fall out gracefully, consciously…carefully is what determines if your bail is a success or not. And of course whether or not you get back in. This does, certainly, apply to all areas of life.
What is falling out gracefully? Here’s a yoga story to illustrate my point:
I was practicing last week beside a new student. I had never seen her before. Class was packed, and this woman was directly beside me in the front row with a few inches between our mats….six inches to be exact. I was close enough to spray her with my arm sweat going into Eagle Pose.
I can safely say, after teaching for eight years, I have seen nearly all kinds of students. Sloppy to disciplined, sterile to stinky, self-conscious to simply conscious…I’m sure you can imagine; as teachers, we see it all.
(This is another never before seen out-take from that photo shoot with my pal Egan and Frankie again, kicking Egan in the ass,)
Back to the story… this student was focussed. She may have been new to me, but she had certainly put in her time in some other hot room, because you don’t get that look in your eyes when you’re distracted and all worried about what people think of your short-shorts. We were a great team, and I really appreciated her energy. It’s a treat when the person beside you takes their practice as seriously as you do.
Not only did she wait for the teacher’s instructions to move, thereby keeping herself present and in sync with the energy of the class, but she seemed to move with me…or maybe I moved with her, doesn’t matter. We became like synchronized yogis expressing the true meaning of yoga. Union.
The most glorious part of this wonderfully present student is that when she fell out, she did so with grace. No drama. Minimal movement out of consideration for herself and her mat neighbours. At one point, in standing head to knee, she fell out when my forehead was on my knee, balancing (of course, for those of you who know the posture) on one leg. You know, this one:
I felt her moving slowly, partly (I’m guessing) because she knew it took everything I had to hold my posture. She did not need to clutch her back in pain to silently justify her imbalance, huff and turn around, reach for her water…oh no. She gently put her foot on the ground, and picked it right back up without breaking eye contact with herself. The space between her falling out and getting back in was filled with awareness.
I was sharing this story with my class the other day, and a student messaged me after class to tell me that this particular idea, falling out with grace, was especially meaningful for her. (Thanks for the message Ash <3)
Like so many aspects of yoga, this concept applies off the mat just as much as on.
How do you fall? Do you make a fuss, bring others down with you, huff and puff and create a scene…or do you fall out with grace?
Do you reach for your water to distract yourself, roll your eyes or look out the window? Or do you focus, course correct in a matter of seconds, commit to doing and being your best, and get your ass back in the posture?
Deep thoughts on a Wednesday. 😉
Love you guys.