It’s 11am, and I’ve already found at least 9 ways to procrastinate, yet again, getting on my mat for my yoga practice. The past few months have provoked me in that regard as I find myself in a constant state of struggling to find work, keep financially afloat, stay positive, find motivation to do the regular things I need to do to be healthy and sane. The demons of fatigue, self-doubt, anger, frustration, impatience, crisis of faith, these little fuckers visit me daily—hourly, even—and challenge my nature to a duel at point-blank range. It’s all in the mix, every day. I feel like Bill Murray in “Groundhog Day” but with neither Angie McDowell as my straight man nor the predictably happy ending.
One last scroll through the Facebooks, and up I go to my yoga space to start my practice. Two minutes in, I have to stop the process to clean all the pet hair off the floor which is driving me to distraction. That intervention complete, I return to my unfocused focus to resume my practice. Today’s practice involves a visit with my gluteus medius—standing balance poses with lifted and abducted legs moving through triangle and half-moon poses and finishing in an arm balance with extended, abducted legs.
As I follow the video and move through my teacher’s instructions, I catch my reflection in my balcony window and fix on a roll of skin that has taken residence on my side when I lift my leg sideways in the air for my half-moon pose. Inner focus moves immediately into dread as my mind swirls with a flurry of hateful epithets that bubble up in my consciousness like cartoon dialogue. “Fat shit.” “You’ve totally lost it.” “Nobody wants to see that.” “NEVER take your shirt off in a real yoga class.” “You’re not aging well.” “What the hell are you doing with your life?!” This critical inner voice can be such a total Mean Girl.
Thankfully, the pose shifts to a standing forward fold, and I can no longer see my reflection. I keep moving through my practice as if that previous moment hadn’t even happened. But it did. And it does. A lot. My inner Mean Girl hews a pretty wide swath in my psyche. She and my inner Perpetually-Dissatisfied Parent (“You’re wasting your life.” “You’re not trying hard enough.” “You’re dreaming if you think you can be happy and successful.”) are besties. They flank each other with arms crossed and eyebrows knit, ever firm in their harsh criticism of my deepest flaws.
Inhale, look forward. Exhale, bow. Inhale, reach arms overhead. Exhale, hands to prayer.
With breath comes space. With space comes relief. The inner Meanies poof gone.
The practice builds to its crescendo, and I set up for my final pose—eka pada koundinyasana 2. I’ve done this arm balance hundreds of times, but each time it challenges me anew and beckons me to rise to its occasion. As I plant my hands and bring my left knee to my elbow, I shift my body weight forward while my right leg extends behind me. I reach through the crown of my head and lift my gaze slightly.
And just as my eyes focus on a point ahead of me, I’ll be goddamned if I don’t catch my reflection in the window again where all I can see is the cellulite on the backs of my upper arms, mocking me like the “HOT DONUTS NOW” sign in the window of the Krispy Kreme. My inner Meanies are about to go to TOWN on this sad excuse for humanity that I have clearly become, when I suddenly remember the Facebook meme my cousin posted that I happened to “like” just moments before I went up to practice yoga.
‘”If you see your glass as half empty, pour it into a smaller glass and stop bitching.”
Like a warrior princess astride a magical, rainbow-festooned unicorn, my inner Fangirl intercepts the Meanies and stops them in their tracks before they can utter a single nasty word.
“For fuck’s sake. Give the woman a BREAK. She’s in a freakin’ ARM BALANCE, you wicked old witches! You don’t get to be here anymore. Now, piss off!”
One more deep inhale. Then exhale. I stretch a little bit longer, taking up just the tiniest bit more space in all directions, and I know I’ve found my right-sized glass.