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Working Through It

I had a horrible ashtanga practice this morning. I could blame it on my back being tight or on being pressed for time but the real issue was what was going on in my head. That said, I’m not really sure what was going on with me but I was in tears before I even made it through standing series. By the time I was on the floor the only thing I wanted to do was get off my mat as quickly as possible. I thought about leaving but then I considered how many times I’ve challenged my own students to stay with their practice even when it doesn’t feel easy or especially good.

So instead of fleeing from what was drawing up uncomfortable emotions, I finished. I will admit that I rushed through some poses and skipped a few that I just didn’t have the heart to do but I made it to savasana…and then immediately rolled up my mat and left as quickly as possible fighting back tears. A couple of hours later I had to teach a class. The thing with teaching is that you have to do it even when you don’t feel like it. The thing about teaching yoga is that you don’t have to pretend that it’s the best day ever because if it’s not, and you do pretend, the experience you give your students feels anything but authentic and heartfelt.

Forced, fake happy is uncomfortable and people don’t connect with that. Instead I told my students about my crappy ashtanga practice and reminded them that you don’t always have to come to your mat at 100%. Some days you may be at 10% and wondering how you’re going to make it to the next pose. But breath by breath, pose by pose the practice happens and growth occurs. You learn that it’s okay to feel things and you know that you’re not the only one in the room that is feeling something. Energy and emotional states are different every day. Learn how strong you are from the difficult practices that challenge you physically and emotionally.

Apple cinnamon oatmeal after practice helped.

A soy latte after teaching really helped.

Lots to do today. Getting to it.

{ 22 comments… add one }
  • Caroline May 8, 2012, 1:24 pm

    Congrats on sticking with your practice when it’s uncomfortable and sharing that experience honestly with your students. I have had many practices like that too – I always feel a little better after I stick it out. Hope your day gets better!

  • rachael May 8, 2012, 1:30 pm

    jen – THIS is why we all love you; and moreover, why I (in particular) keep coming back to your class and love you as my friend. You don’t pretend. You might not talk about it – which is 100% ok – but you don’t pretend either. Whatever is going on with you will pass – it always does. chin up; keep at it; virtual hug and love.

  • Dominique @ FreeToBeAthlete May 8, 2012, 1:34 pm

    You are an incredibly strong woman, Jen. Allow yourself some moments to feel weak. Your power shines even through tears.

  • Whitney @ Whit Likes Fit May 8, 2012, 1:48 pm

    My grandma has always said “things will look better in the morning” so I’m hoping they do for you. And I also think a good cry is a solution for most things 🙂

  • dana May 8, 2012, 1:54 pm

    Great message, Jen. Sometimes those crying/uncomfortable practices are what it’s about…feeling the emotions and working through it.
    “When we avoid the legitimate suffering that results from dealing with problems, we also avoid the growth that problems demand from us”
    I really hope that the next time I visit family in Charlotte, I can drop in on one of your classes!! “hugs”

  • charlotte May 8, 2012, 2:18 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing this as you always seem to have the best outlook and the most energy out of the blogs I read. It comforts me to know somebody as energetic and positive and healthy as you still can get burned out be it emotional, physical, etc. I know that hormones and emotions heavily influence our workout and our ability to cope with the strength it takes to get through a workout or even a yoga class. Your honesty to yourself, your class, and readers is what makes you a beautiful person inside and out.

    While most fitness activists are the happiest people I know, we can’t be happy 100% of the time, like you pointed out. To allow our off days to occur and have the ability to bounce back after a little time makes us stronger in so many ways.

    I so respect and value you and enjoy your daily posts. Have you ever read “The Unbearable Lightness of Being?” It is my favorite book, all about embracing the dark to see the light. I’ve been taking a comparative religion class and also have gotten really into Buddhism as a result which emphasizes yoga and the different types, some of which are more through the mind than the physical body. Anyway, just some cool ideas for you to check out when you have time that I at least found interesting and helpful, emotionally. We are only human. Like I said, even though you may be “off” today, we are so much more in tune with our bodies than most of Western Society because we take the time to care for ourselves and exercise, eat well, and fill our daily activities with energy and joy.

    Even giving this advice to you is healing to myself, as I approach a rough week of finals and am literally running intervals at 6 am to start my day off sane and stress free.

    Alright I’ll end the novel here. Hope the rest of your day is relaxing and gets better from here!

  • Whitney May 8, 2012, 2:44 pm

    Hope whatever you are going through gets better! I will keep you in my prayers. Thanks for being so honest! 🙂

  • ktb May 8, 2012, 2:45 pm

    Hi Jen — I thought you and your readers might find this video inspirational, and especially so after a rough day! (I hope the link works — otherwise, you’ll need to copy and paste into your browser.)


    • Kamaile May 8, 2012, 4:42 pm

      Thanks for posting this video! Incredible!

  • Meaghan@ChooseYourJourney May 8, 2012, 3:03 pm

    Love that you are real with your students. It gives them permission to just feel however they need to feel during their practice. Teachers that seem perfect make me a little jealous sometimes but I never relate to them the way I do with the teachers who share a little bit. One of my teachers read a Melody Beattie passage about anger in class yesterday. I loved it because yoga isn’t just about dolphins and sunshine and backbends. It’s about real life and sometimes real life is angry or sad. I hope you are feeling better soon. Yoga + lattes are for sure a good Rx for the sads.

  • Carly May 8, 2012, 3:09 pm

    Thank you for sharing – I am going through something personal right now. This really spoke to me today. Life is about continuing the dance forward, always.

  • Sana May 8, 2012, 3:16 pm

    Sometimes I def don’t feel like teach classes after a long day of classes and labs. But I always feel better after teaching. It’s hard to feel peppy, when you feel like crap.
    Feel better!

  • Liaa May 8, 2012, 3:24 pm

    Great job on sticking it out to the end in your practice. Sorry you’ve been so emotional though. It’s never fun when all you want to do is relax at home, but you have other obligations. At least it may take your mind off some of these things? You are so strong to even be sharing these feelings and emotions on your blog, just know we can all relate to this!

  • Sarah May 8, 2012, 3:54 pm

    The darkest moments come before the dawn — you will feel better and it’s so strong of you to stick with it and let yourself feel those emotions. Although lots of us like to pretend that life is all unicorns and chocolates, that’s just not the case and we all go through tough times. Thank you for being so honest and sharing.

  • Krystina May 8, 2012, 3:56 pm

    You’re right. There are some days when finishing a yoga sequence feels like hell and the only thing you want to do is just quit or cry. And that’s okay. What is important is the strength and growth that you foster through both your good and not so good practices. I’ve never left my mat not feeling proud of what I did and happy that I practiced.

  • Amanda @flecksofgreen May 8, 2012, 8:14 pm

    I applaud you for sticking with it. It is so much harder to keep going sometimes, but so worth it once you get through it. It’s inspiring! Thank you 🙂

  • Alaina May 8, 2012, 10:26 pm

    You definitely show how much of an inspiration you are when you do posts like this. I think your strength shows even more when you’re able to get through the tough times. This is why I love you and your blog.

    I hope things get better. 🙂

  • madison @ toldinvain May 9, 2012, 1:56 am

    I’ve read this post twice now. I had a similar experience yesterday morning during my yoga practice. My whole body was itching to get off that mat and out of my head. Thanks for your honesty and sharing.

  • Amy May 9, 2012, 5:46 am

    Thank you for your honesty. Even though you might not go into details, sharing this with us lets us know you are relatable and human. Life isn’t always perfect as some blogs might portray. Like the person above said, things do sometimes seem better in the mornings. Hope this day brings you many smiles and laughs 🙂

  • Erica May 9, 2012, 6:19 am

    It’s amazing what yoga forces us to feel.

  • Pam May 9, 2012, 7:41 am

    Thank you for being transparent.
    Your strength shines through.
    You inspire me.

  • pamela May 11, 2012, 8:55 pm

    I read your blog every day but don’t always comment. This post is one of my favorites. Thank you for being so real and so raw. Last week I felt great but cried during a 7 minute long frog pose. This week I felt awful but yoga class was amazing. Yoga is so much about listening – thank you for sharing that.

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