‘Boat Pose,’ ‘Cosmic Abs,’ and Impermanence

Row, row, row your boat,

Hear throats grunt and scream;

Verily wearily, barely merrily,

Sighs the sweaty scene.

I really despise ‘Boat Pose’ and ‘Cosmic Abs’ (Cosmic Abs—imagine holding the core shape of Boat Pose, but with alternating side-pedaling of arms and legs); they serve as a reminder of how physically weak my body can be.

I lose control; my body trembles as I struggle to find stillness.
Breathing becomes a chore. I taste sweat on my teeth as my face grimaces into a forced smile.

The tremors aren’t mine alone, though; this pose often sends several of us into involuntary motion. Though instructors celebrate our shakiness as ‘strength’ and ‘perseverance,’ the poses still serve as a testament to unfamiliarity with such seemingly simple movement (or lack thereof).

Oh boy, and don’t even get me started on the ‘Boat Pose’ variation ‘Swan Boat’ (‘Boat Pose’ with an ‘up-and-down,’ ‘floor-to-crunch’ core-pumping motion).
Now that pose makes some SERIOUS waves in my ocean!

Inspired by the popular English nursery rhyme “Row Row Row Your Boat,” I seek to find content in my body’s abilities. The song’s lyrics encourage us to flow with the currents of life, gently. We are constantly in motion, rowing, as time inevitably passes. It makes little sense, then, to muddle our waters with thoughts of incompetence.

In life and in yoga, our practice invites us to row our own boats, and only we can do that best.

And, hell—a little shakiness adds some thrill to the ride!

Oh, how words are so simple to type—
I do hope that I can channel this mentality the next time I’m a sweaty, panting (and strong!) puddle on my mat.

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