Getting off the mat… and working together…
13 April 2014
Several months ago, I was hanging out in a particularly relaxing child’s pose. After completing a sequence of sun salutations, I was thoroughly enjoying the rest with my forehead on the mat, spending the time focusing on deep, rejuvenating breathing. That’s when the instructor, in her usual lilting tone, said something I had never heard before. I could hear the warm smile in her voice as she said, “and now we’re going to do a couple partner poses…”
I distinctly remember, even now, feeling so overwhelmed. The heavy weight of dread and the hyperactive electricity of panic took over my body simultaneously.
At that time, I thought yoga was almost entirely a solitary practice. I experienced a slew of racing thoughts when I heard those words “partner poses.”
Sure, a group of us get together in the studio. We take the same class with the same teacher. And we definitely exchanged names and warm smiles before beginning our individual practices. Individual. Separate. We all have our own mats; shouldn’t we stay there, in that safe place?
I have to touch someone else? They have to touch me? But I don’t really know them. What if I smell? What if I’m not strong enough? What will they think?
Can I run? What if I just don’t get out of child’s pose?
Wow, I’m really terrified by the idea of doing this. Ok, I’m getting up now. There’s no way this will kill me. I’m open to new things.
This is me being open to new things!
And I stood up, turning my attention to the demonstration of a partner pose that became the first of many I would practice in the following months.
I haven’t wanted to share this experience previously, because I have been ashamed of that initial reaction. I haven’t wanted to admit that I was so uncomfortable with the idea of physical human contact, that I recoiled so fiercely at the idea of trying something different.
But that was my original response. And it took an act of bravery on my part to dive in and give that partner pose activity a try. I might not be ready to write about why I may have been so terrified, but I am ready to celebrate the choice to persevere that I made that day.
I made the choice to participate fully, to be authentic, to tell my partner I was nervous but I was ready to make the attempt. I fully heard her express a slight uncertainty and offer an encouragement that we would tackle it together. I remember looking at each other, connecting as we clasped each other’s wrists and supported each other in double chair pose.
That was the day I realized that practicing yoga at Sangha Space was about more than connecting with myself. The potential was there to genuinely connect with new people in a safe space. It was a place to get to know my true self AND let it out to play with others. Since realizing that freedom, I have come to really appreciate partner poses. Each connection brings to light fascinating feelings and thoughts to experience.
And a special thanks to anyone that has partnered with me. Those moments have brought much-needed insight and inspiration to my yogic journey.