Week 3 was inversion weekend. I went into the weekend knowing that I currently don't have the strength to get into most of the the big inversions (Salamba Sirsasana, Adho Mukha Vrksasana, Pincha Mayurasana, Salamba Sarvangasana). And that's ok. They haven't been part of my practice - ever, in most cases - so I wasn't about to expect myself to get up the first weekend we work on them.
Saturday was a major shoulder opener warmup to prepare for headstand, handstand, forearm balance). I am constantly amazed at how physically challenging yoga can be. I used to practice yoga simply to stretch my body and still my mind. In the past year, trying to combat my chronic back problems, I have started to look at yoga more as therapy: a way to get stronger, gain awareness of my body, and learn to prevent further back injuries. Yoga can be whatever you want it to be. Simple stretching? Sure. Strength building? Yep. Meditative practice? That too. Connection to the universal Divine? Yes, even that if that is what you seek.
So, back to Saturday. As usual, it was pretty much the hardest physical practice I've ever done. Every day in this training is more challenging, and all I can do is try to keep up. I did my best, which was ok. Not as good as I would have liked, but I can only push myself so hard to keep up with everyone else before I run the risk of injury. And it's just not worth that risk. After the first weekend of YTT, I decided I would make an effort to just not notice how far "behind" I am everyone else physically, because my journey is my own, and it really doesn't matter how my Vira 2 compares to someone else's Vira 2, or that I have to go to my knees in my Chaturanga Dandasana every.single.time.
But telling yourself you won't notice that everyone else is on the third round of SNA without a rest or modification while you yourself are taking breaks every time we get to Adho Muhka Svanasana and actually doing it...well, clearly I didn't succeed in not noticing since I'm writing about it. Knowing my abilities and limits thereof does not mean it wasn't a challenge to watch the rest of the class get up into all of the prep and full poses, while I could barely hold the prep poses. The thing is, when you have one pose you can't do in a class, it's not too big of a deal. But when there are two, three, even four poses for which you aren't ready, it feels like a sign that you don't belong. It's like repeatedly ripping off a bandaid; the problem just keeps getting shoved in your face over and over again. And it hurts. That was me on Saturday. I felt like I shouldn't be there. I kept having to fight back tears of frustration at not being able to do anything. As we moved into our cooldown I still struggled with the tears and for the first time during this challenge seriously considering getting up and leaving class (for a while). I don't really care that I cry in class (every single class so far, aside from the anatomy weekend, of course). I hate being disruptive. It's one thing to cry a few tears that wipe easily away, but on Saturday I was into the wracking sobs type of crying before I managed to control it.
It was a tough day, physically and emotionally.