This week was full of hard conversations. I don’t know about you, but I’m not a fan of hard conversations. I don’t like them. I’m not good at them. Sarcasm, deflection, a funny facial expression – those are things I can do. Vulnerability, honesty, openness… not my strong suit.
I love being the “Of course I can help out!” girl, the “Nooo, don’t worry about it, I’m fine” girl, and I realllllly love being the “I don’t need help, I don’t need help! I can do everything absolutely, completely 100% on my own” girl. But this week was filled with “I’m sorry”s and “no”s and “you hurt me”s and – my least favorite – “help!”s. They were hard conversations with friends, with people no longer in my life, and with myself. It took a lot of soul searching, a lot of self awareness, and – for this introvert – a lot of energy. I’m not good at sitting down and being honest with people. I’m not good at telling people no. And I’m really, really not good at admitting I need help.
But this week was different, this week I had to do just that. This week was hard. I felt loved in more ways than I knew possible, affirmed in ways I never imagined, and drained in more ways than I could comprehend. I also ate a lot of ice cream.
Life is hard. I’m learning that and re-learning that constantly, it seems. Sometimes you can’t quite escape it. Sometimes it feels like you have – for a quick second – and then the hard truth rears its ugly head again.
You know what’s also hard? Yoga. Yeah, I didn’t see that coming either. I didn’t except to ever be writing a blog about yoga; never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be comparing yoga to life. But, here we are. Stay with me, friends…
I recently started attempting yoga. I say attempting, because balance is not my thing. As in I don’t have any. Yoga also takes a lot of strength, endurance, and focus. Also things I don’t have. But I’m improving! I can now flip my feet from Cobra to Downward Dog without even thinking, I can hold a Warrior II without my arms shaking. All you yogis out there – ya feel me?
What I’ve come to love about yoga (besides the word yogi – SO fun!) is you’re encouraged to listen to your body. It’s not an intense work out class where you feel the need to push yourself to keep up with everything, there’s no pressure to be as fast and fit as everyone around you. Every pose has different difficulty levels, and you decide what your body needs. Does this stretch feel too hard? Take it down a notch. Is your body ready for more of a challenge? Put your hands here. And – my personal favorite – do you need a break?? Child’s Pose.
Child’s Pose is allowed at anytime you need it, for however long you need it. You sit back on your heels, toes together, stretch your knees to the edge of your mat, and reach your arms above your head as far as they can go. It sounds strange, but it is one of the most relaxing feelings in the world (second, of course, to snuggling with a cozy blanket while it’s raining outside). Especially after trying to twist your body into weird contortions or balance on one foot for too long or keep your arm raised in the same position – Child’s Pose is where it’s at. It’s a break. It’s a breath of fresh air. You can literally feel your body go, “Ahhhhhhhhh. Thank you. This is what I needed.”
I’m learning that my life needs a Child’s Pose option. My life needs me to constantly be feeling it out – listening to my body, listening to my soul. Is this too much? Do we need more of that? How are we feeling about things? How are we handling this? And then – when I’m being stretched too thin, when I’ve had to hold too many things up for far too long – I need to be able to sit back into Child’s Pose, to be able to take a deep breath, to hear my soul go, “Ahhhhhhhhh. Thank you. This is what I needed.”
Sometimes my Child’s Pose is a night to myself, spent on the couch, wrapped up in a blanket and a good book. Sometimes it’s coffee with my best friend. Sometimes it’s leaving my phone in the other room, because the world CAN survive without me for an hour (…I think). A Child’s Pose can be an extra 20 minutes of sleep (and your hair goes unwashed), a phone call to that out-of-town-friend, a drive home with the radio turned off. It can be so many different things, but the thing it cannot be is this: ignored.
Even the most intense yogis revert back to Child’s Pose. Even the most put-together, I-can-do-it-all people get overwhelmed. When I first started yoga, I was embarassed to take a Child’s Pose. I was embarrassed to have to stop the really hard pose we were in to sit on the floor, embarrassed to admit, “Heyyy my hip hurts, I shouldn’t be doing this…”. But I’m learning there’s no shame in knowing what you need; there’s no guilt in taking a step back from things. In yoga and in life. I have been so thankful for the Child’s Pose – the real one and the figurative one – lately.
And then the ohhh-God-works-in-mysterious-ways, He-really-IS-in-everything moment came, and I realized why. Why it’s so effective, why it’s so needed, why it’s so freeing. It took me crying on my bedroom floor Monday night – on my knees, face on the floor, arms outstretched – telling God “I don’t know, but I know You do” – to realize what Child’s Pose truly is: surrender.
I’m sure the inventors of yoga (who are they??) didn’t mean for that. Or maybe they did. I’ll Wikipedia it later. But a true Child’s Pose – crumpled on the floor in exhaustion, face bent down in humility, hands outstretched in helplessness – is surrender. Surrendering to your Father. Surrendering to the fact that you can’t keep going on like this, surrendering that you need a break, surrendering that you need a God so much bigger than yourself. Surrendering to Him takes us realizing we can’t do this on our own. It takes lowering ourselves to the floor, helpless without His strength. It takes opening up our hands to see what He’s going to give – and what He’s going to take. It takes so much honestness, openness, vulnerability. Surrendering takes living in the knowledge that He is our Father, and we are His children.
Life is hard. Some weeks it feels unmanageable. Some weeks you’re pulled in too many different directions and you aren’t sure how long you’ll be able to stay standing. Child’s Pose, my friends. Child’s Pose and make that phone call, take that vacation day, pour that glass of wine. Child’s Pose and remind yourself that your lungs are still full of air – and that knowledge alone makes today great. Child’s Pose and surrender yourself to the Father who loves you more than you can possibly know. Yoga-nna get through this, trust me.