On Holy Yoga and Battling Self-Doubt

Raging self-doubt crept in over the last few weeks, bringing insecurity and melancholy to roost along with it. Anyone else have those days? The ones where you ask yourself over and over — what in the world are you even doing, and does any of it even matter?

121515 Holy YogaI know better. Life is lived richly by plodding onward in the small things. Faithful endurance. One step at a time. One word after another. Doing the one thing I can do and not getting stymied by the million things I can’t. Slowly (hopefully) those tiny incremental steps turn into something bigger than I saw at the start of the journey.

And even though I know better, I’ve had a hard time kicking the blues and naysayers to the curb. With that issue came increasing difficulty in stringing words together in a blog post that I was willing to publish. I’ve got four drafts sitting around that I can’t bring myself to finish or post.

A big part of my anxiety management problem is self-inflicted. I had to make scheduling choices between family and funeral commitments and Holy Yoga class. Holy Yoga fell to the wayside with more pressing issues.

Thus, I hadn’t been to yoga in a few weeks due to scheduling conflicts with holiday festivities, funerals and family obligations. As we’ve already established, I felt the lack of yoga beyond just having muscles seizing up. There’s just something about a yoga class that is way more helpful than a video or solo practice, but that’s just me.

Since January, I’ve made it a priority to attend a Holy Yoga class at least once a week. This is the longest I’ve gone without class since I started. And all this emo drama makes me remember why I started going to yoga class in the first place — to manage my anxiety and self-talk.

I’m not kind to myself and am prone to self-sabotage rather than taking life risks. I also have a tendency to assume that everyone thinks the worst possible thing about me (even as I give the majority of people the best possible interpretation of themselves). I’m almost always in shock when people think I’m awesome. I can keep these thought monkeys at bay when I’m disciplined in my yoga practice. They’re still there all the time, but their volume is greatly reduced — to an extent that it’s easy to ignore them and name them for what they are instead of buying into the lies.

And so, finally on Saturday, I made a difficult choice and said “no” to something I wanted to go to just so I could make it to yoga and start to manage my emotions. I went to class, and class was exactly what I needed to be put back to rights. I felt like I could breathe again around my anxious drama. I like it when life works like that, since so often it does not.

God showed up and spoke, though perhaps not in the graceful, coordinated way that I anticipated.

I got the giggles after I wiped out flipping my dog from a side plank. I was up, feeling awesome about myself and my mad skills. Then my arm buckled, and I thunked down onto my mat, all while J and my sister tried to muffle their snickers. I was mildly embarrassed — particularly going from feeling strong and accomplished to falling flat on my face.

Life’s like that too. We feel at the top of our game. Then, surprise! We’re tumbling head over feet onto the ground. Awkward. Embarrassed. Seemingly alone. I say seemingly alone on purpose; most often we’re not alone as we think we are, and we’d notice those who are with us if we changed our perspective and looked around.

So I picked myself up from my heap on the floor, a little red and sheepish, while trying to not to make eye contact with J. If J and I’s eyes were to meet, I’d loose my threadbare composure in a fit of wild, inappropriate laughter. I respond to embarrassment with inappropriate laughter or ostrich-like hiding depending on the venue and scenario.

As the class hunkered down into child’s pose — knees bent on the mat while the head rests on the floor —  catching our collective breaths and resting our tired arms, our instructor came around and helped adjust my posture. I struggle getting my hips to lean back toward my heels in this pose.

It’s these little moments — simple, kind and normal things — that help me re-calibrate. At that moment, I saw my falling through a different perspective and could choose to see myself gently, rather than opting for berating or shaming my failure. It’s okay. I tried something. I risked. I can try it again another day. Regardless, I’m still me. I’m still loved. Particularly by the folks who matter most to me. And, really, my wipe out was pretty funny, and I didn’t hurt myself. So, let’s file that moment in the #ForTheWin category.

Having kindness for myself is so much easier to do when I’m at yoga. It’s easier to laugh at my ridiculousness. To find some unexpected grace for myself.

With writing, I find this so much harder. I struggle to allow a post to be just one post and not representative of all that I am or hope to be. I let way too much rest on a simple writing exercise. So, I’m learning to let go and grow here.

And yoga this past week helped with that too. I’m feeling space to breathe this week, space to throw something iffy out there and see where it lands. A little more grounded. A little more centered.

Today, I’m not playing the comparison game. I’m able to sidestep the “enough” questions. The ones that sound like, “Am I smart enough? Relevant enough? Talented enough? Dedicated enough? Cool enough?”

To be honest, the questions still float around my brain and probably always will. But today I can work around them and plod ahead this week instead of tripping all over myself. And that, my friends, feels amazing. Hurrah for forward marches today!

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