May has come and gone and thus has my yoga challenge. Can I still call it my yoga challenge if I didn’t complete it?
Last year, I chaturanga-ed and warrior three-ed through a 25 day yoga challenge with my studio Bend and Bloom. I joined my mat in sickness, on my birthday, through deadlines, job stress, and somehow, I came out the other end with a little more awareness and self-acceptance. I told everyone for months about it, flexing my tiny kiwi of a bicep as proof. “I can lift a car now,” I’d tell my boss matter-a-factly and insist my Saturdays hadn’t really started unless I’d had a date with Alfred (my yoga mat).
So when this year came around, I didn’t even think before signing up. I mean, imagine what year two would look like? Head stands? Being able to talk with animals?
But like all great stories, fate and yoga had other plans for me. While last year I learned the power of perseverance, this year I learned to accept walking away.
The month started with me making a quick trip to California and upon returning, diving right into my challenge. I could still complete 25 classes in 24 days, I could do this. Then I got sick. Alright … 25 classes in 22 days? Then I started getting more projects at work and leaving later. 25 classes in 20 days?
Staring at my passion planner and the improbable, stressful schedule I’d laid out for myself, I finally gave in.
I quit my challenge.
Setting up boundaries has never been my strength. I want to do everything at once and all the time. That’s why I’m drawn to yoga so much, it’s a daily practice of learning what I am and am not capable of every single day. While I wanted this decision to be simple, I still found myself confronted with my own self criticism: What will people think? What does this say about your ability to commit to a long term project? If I don’t see this yoga challenge through it means I’m not reliable, that I can’t keep a deadline, that I’m never going to change my habits of being late, of not getting back to people in a timely manner or answering the phone or turning in an article early.
In these moments, I sometimes imagine myself sitting in a theater, alone amongst the hundreds of red velvet seats, watching my insecurities audience on stage. One by one they advance, give their biggest, most dramatic performances, and one by one, I either dismiss or cast them.
Nervousness of presenting in front of a crowd? You can stay for another act. Worry over what others think of me? Pass. Inability to accept failure? I think it’s time for you to go. Allowance for self care? Please stay, I have a leading role for you.
In the end, I learned there isn’t just success or failure. There is so much in-between and sometimes, that gray area is where the most needed lessons are just waiting for me to RSVP.