Gold Star

“Did you win?”

This is the question I get from Jeremy as soon as I come home from a yoga class.

But there’s no winning in yoga.

Yes, I hear you. I thought so too.

You see, Jeremy loves to win. He loves winning so much he turns noncompetitive activities into opportunities for more winning.

How does one win at yoga?

You win by getting the most comments and adjustments from the teacher. (Yep, Jeremy made up these rules.)

Things like, “Nice, Amanda. Keep rotating those shoulders ooooooopen.” Or, “Bring your feet a little closer together, Jo. Thaaaaat’s it!” Or when the teacher comes over and reminds you to sink a little deeeeeper by gently pressing down on your thigh. Those things get you oodles and oodles of yoga points. And then you win!

Once upon a time, I was a yoga teacher. When Jeremy would take a yoga class I was teaching he often threw himself out of alignment or feigned misunderstanding the pose just so I would go over and adjust him. He worked very hard to earn each win, especially when I tried to ignore him.

So, I know all about how winning in yoga works now. Yet, when I treated myself to a yoga class I did everything I could not to win. As a teacher, it’s really nice to fade into the background where no one will notice you. At home, Jeremy would ask, “Did you win?” I would lie and say, “Yes, honey, I won!” And he would be proud.

I recently joined a new studio. Not a yoga studio. (I miss yoga but honestly, who even has time for those 90-minute classes?) I joined Pop Physique. They offer a kind of barre class that hits all the muscle groups with dancery moves, strength training, and all that jazz.

My one-year post delivery body is overdue for some shaping up. I’m not a yoga instructor anymore. And I’m not really in shape anymore. Sure, I jog Judah around the neighborhood a few mornings a week but that hardly replaces a regular six-mile runs. Yes, I may stretch a bit while hanging out on the rug with The Guy, but a forward fold here and a baddha konasana there do not add up to a strong practice.

I’m getting used to my squishy parts and have no desire to return to my pre-baby body…

Wait. Did I just say that? That is such a lie. I’d return to that body in a heartbeat.

Let’s try that again:

I’m getting used to my squishy parts and I’m okay with the idea that my body will likely never return to its pre-baby state. Though, I do want to feel strong and flexible again. So, I decided to give Pop Physique a go.

I showed up for my first class with about a ton of different emotions – excited, nervous, hopeful, and please God, don’t let me fart. The instructor was adorable with her big glasses and strawberry smile. I felt like I was in good hands. And then class started.

You know you’re in trouble when the warm up kicks your ass. For reals. It was so, so hard.

Guess who was winning. That’s right, me! I won by a long shot. I got the most adjustments and the most comments that anyone has ever received in any class, ever. Except that it didn’t feel anything like winning. It felt a lot like losing.

Back when I was teaching yoga a virgin student would sometimes show up to class, someone who had never done yoga. My job was to make the postures accessible and help them find the good stuff so they would want to explore the practice deeper.

But yoga doesn’t come easy to everyone. There were times when I would watch a student struggle and think, “It isn’t really that hard, is it?”

So, there I was struggling in barre class in a way I haven’t struggled in a long time. My legs were shaking, I wanted to break my arms straight off, and I worked my abs so hard I could’ve barfed.

That sweet little teacher gave me so much help/encouragement that I was basically winning the barre Olympics.

On the way home I started to beat myself up for not taking better care of myself since Judah was born. Would it have been all that hard to keep up with my yoga practice? Surely, I could’ve done more to stay in shape.

When I walked in the door I didn’t have to lie about winning. I told Jeremy how many adjustments and comments the teacher gave me and he was very happy – so happy, that I actually started to feel good about it. Because win or lose, I was trying really hard. It got me excited to go again.

Maybe I could have done more in the past year. Maybe not. Regardless, I am where I am. Jazmine, the yoga teacher, would have said there’s nowhere else I need to be. And then she would’ve told me to sink a little deeeeper.

The thing is, when we are students or beginners of any kind, adjustments given by a teacher (or mentor, friend, or colleague) are an opportunity to learn. When we learn, we grow. And when we grow, we win. Not in the way that Jeremy likes to win, but it’s winning nonetheless – a better kind of winning. That is, winning at life.

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2 Comments on How to Win in Yoga & in Life

  1. Jessie
    July 26, 2015 at 7:28 am (4 years ago)

    Such a great post! I’m also trying to get into better shape, so I’ll keep my fingers crossed for both you and me! Xo

    • JazmineAluma
      July 26, 2015 at 9:04 pm (4 years ago)

      Girl, peer support is vital! I’m sending love right back atcha! xo


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