Im standing inTreepose, rigidly holding myself upright, thinking everything is just fine. A little rigid, maybe, butfine. You know: Everything isfine. Imfine.
Everybody knows what you mean when you say that. So Pam knows what my rigid Tree means. The jig is up. She commands, Good. Now stop gripping with your toes.
Just a few simple words, uttered with calm conviction. Pam has no idea what shes done.
SHES TAKEN AWAY ALL IVE GOT.
It took me years of practicing yoga to figure out that I could sustain difficult standing balances by scrunching my feet into the mat like suckered tentacles. It worked. And now she wants me to give it up?Noooooooo!!!
Not because shes cruel. Because it creates poor alignment and can contribute to injury. And also, that scrunchy approach . . . turns out,not so yogi.
Why is it every time I think Ive figured out some short cut in life, its usually maladaptive?
I consider defying my teacher. How bad can a little toe gripping be?
But then she reveals one of yogas greatest paradoxes, one entirely new to me: The perfection of the pose comes with the ease in the pose.
This logic runs 100% counter to everything my WASP, double Type A, overachieving workaholic life has repeatedly taught me. (And by taught I mean hammered relentlessly into my skull until the words no pain, no gain and with great struggle comes great reward are tattooed.) How couldanythingbe perfect if its not achieved through sweat, gritted teeth, and an unleashed torrent of internal reprimand?
Pam, in her typical Rader detector fashion, sees this struggle flit across my face. She comes over.
Ive got you, she says, supporting me. Just let go with your toes. Its okay.
I make the tiny changeunscrunch my toes and relax my feet into the mat.
And she lets go. And its okay.
In fact, everything about the pose is easier, more balanced, moreright.
Almost as though the ease leads towards perfection.
As with so much in Pams classes, suddenly new possibilities reverberate through my mind. What other perfection could I findineveryaspect of my lifeif I relaxed my scrunched vice grip?
Its worth considering.
That life could be moreperfectif Ibeganfrom ease.