Friday, February 17, 2012

Thanks, Partner Yoga...

Photo courtesy

... for totally kicking my ass. Literally. I've never in my life felt so sore in areas I didn't know I had. It also didn't help that I was partnered with a 6 foot something tall yoga dude 3x my size. (Imagine doing downward dog with someone else using the small of your back as the floor for their downward dog.) Even though it was difficult (we couldn't talk the entire time while getting into and out of the poses) and awkward (uhh, hello complete stranger, let's just twist our bodies into pretzels together before I even know your name...) - it was also awesome. We were instructed to be aware of how we communicate in subtle and not-so subtle ways with others and learn how to trust both ourselves and the other person. Yoga poses are challenging on their own, but when you have to do the pose in harmony with a whole other human being? Forget about control. Forget about anything you think you know. You have to just trust. You have to trust something deeper than yourself and also something deeper than the other person. I think they call this grace.

Luckily my partner was really kind and patient. At one point when the two of us were doing chair pose (facing eachother, stretching our arms out and grabbing eachother's wrists using the resistance of eachother's weight to lean back into the pose) my partner said to me,

"You know, the more you just lean back and pull on my arms, the easier it is for me."

WOW. What a concept. That the more we trust and rely on others, the easier it is for them to be themselves and do what they need to do? The more we trust others, the more things just work?

Then when we did chair pose a second time facing back to back and basically using eachother's back's as one would a wall, I again had difficulty in allowing myself to lean against him and put all of my weight into his back. Since I wasn't trusting him we couldn't do the pose. The instructor came over to us and observed. Finally he said, "you can trust him. He can handle you." As soon as the instructor said this, I leaned back into my my partners back and our equal reliance on eachother allowed us to drop into the chair pose. The more we relied on eachother, the stronger we became. Even though my experiences with the poses were much different and more difficult (because doing them with someone else was totally new to me), a lot of poses were actually surprisingly easier when I had someone else to rely on.

It was such a great learning experience - with the added bonus of a massage and workout all in one.

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