I mention in my new book, Fitness, Straight-Up— How to be a better athlete, or at least look like one, that “Because I’m more breadstick than pretzel,” repeated Iyengar-style yoga attempts always proved frustrating. Even with hope, expectation, and effort, yoga fluency eluded me. So, I stopped trying. Now, after completing my literary labor of love which included more than a year of sitting, I figured yoga, despite my skeletal limitations, could be the ideal way to re-acclimatize myself to greater activity. Somehow it seemed prudent to limber up, unwind, and otherwise purify my body and mind before jumping back into the extended rhythm and repetition of running, cycling, and the intensive loads of weight lifting. After all, Hatha (physical) yoga came about as a full-body countermeasure to sitting for hours on end during meditation, and is meant to balance physical and mental states. Perfect!
Now, after four months of regular classes, my downward facing dog posture no longer trembles beneath uncertainty and fatigue, though its alignment still tilts more toward precarious than graceful. Nonetheless, I have a “practice.” Even as my joint angles continue to zig and zag I am better able to direct the intent of the pose by steadily managing my sense of the position, breath by breath. The mechanical work is one thing, it’s essential, and right up my alley. But, something less tangible is the master key. Life experience finally allows me to appreciate this practically, instead of just paying lip service. My urgency today is to do yoga, rather than to be instantly flexible. So, when I tell myself, “It takes as long as it takes” as I practice yoga, I am practicing patience, as well.