Holding Those Tough Poses

If I had to name a least favorite pose, it would be goddess pose.  My legs, knees, and torso just can’t get like that, okay?  While in this pose yesterday all I could think was how soon it would be over. My teacher kept encouraging mindfulness, repeating “be present,” “don’t anticipate,” as she often does.  

At these cues, I know she is about to switch something up on us, whether it’s moving from one flow to the next or rotating to face the back of the mat instead of the front.  In the case of goddess yesterday, she randomized the order in which we bring our right elbow to left knee, left elbow to left knee, etc.  And you know what? It was hard. But I realized that when I am not anticipating what’s next, I am much more peaceful in the pose.

Undoing Attachment — and Anticipation

So often in my practice I get attached to the way a flow should go.  I assume we are always going to do the right side before the left or that we are always going to go from chair into a forward fold, when I know this isn’t always the case.  I also let my mind wander — I anticipate the errands I have to run this weekend or the meal I’m having for dinner after class, or the difficult conversation I need to have with a friend or colleague.

More often than not, I get caught up in my own head thinking about what is next or what should come next that I do it without listening to my heart or being present in the moment.

This concept of non-anticipation expands into my life off the mat as well.  I am a very future-focused person.  I plan and lay out what my day, week, and year is going to look like.  I’m not very spontaneous (though I wish I was) and have difficulty when life doesn’t roll the way I expect (hope?) it will.  Even as I write this, I am anxiously awaiting the next activity I have planned.  And, I know that when it finally arrives, I will already be lamenting over the fact that it’s almost over.

Staving off the Quarter-Life Crisis

I just turned 25 and often feel like I am the living, breathing example of a quarter-life crisis.  That said, a lot of what makes me uncomfortable is not knowing what’s coming next.  Often I feel there is a prescribed way of growing older or that there are specific life events that need to happy by a certain age and so I find myself living in anticipation of these life events and being disappointed when I don’t achieve them “on time.”  Of course we don’t make it easy on each other, do we?  We anticipate for others.  We talk about all the exciting things headed their way without allowing them the freedom to make decisions that may be better suited for them.

So, what makes me most uncomfortable is my obsession with anticipating the next step and the fact that I get frustrated because I can’t stop anticipating.  I would venture to guess this is a common experience for other yogis — on and off the mat.  Anticipation can be powerful.  It prepares me. It causes me to work harder. And it excites me. But it also causes me to fret about the little things and forget how great life can be if I just live it.  My greatest tool in fighting the urge to anticipate is to be grateful and pause and appreciate the sights, scents, and energy around me.  It’s okay to plan and be ready, but I should not do so at the expense of the present.