I hate yoga. I hate all the balancing, the tight pants worn by perfect bendy yoga people, the awkwardness of pigeon pose, and the discomfort of seeing all my faults amplified in the mirror as I attempt to contort my body into the twisty-turny positions.
But I made myself go to beginner’s yoga anyway. My last half-hearted attempt to be a yogi had occurred at least six months ago, so I figured it was time to renew my (Fictional) Rudimentary Yoga Certificate.
During the first pose, the teacher came over and corrected me, pressing my palms closer to the mat. At first I was annoyed, but it dawned on me that I was in child’s pose–possibly the easiest pose ever–and I had gotten it wrong. I started silently laughing into my mat at my utter lack of skill.
Twenty minutes into the hour-long class, I was done with yoga. Forever. I directed impolite epithets toward the teacher in my mind, and I even actually rolled my eyes a few times, like a teenager. (Yoga class was not my finest hour on many fronts.)
But then I remembered something I heard a few days ago. Christina Ricci was being interviewed on The Nerdist Podcast (a show that’s usually profane, occasionally funny, and sporadically profound), and she mentioned that if something made her afraid, that meant she should go for it. In her case, she had to face her fears of hosting SNL and performing in a Broadway play. The monster under my bed? Beginner’s yoga.
A few poses after my micro-revelation, the yoga instructor said something similar. “We need to be comfortable in the uncomfortable, in yoga and in life,” she said during pigeon pose, the aforementioned awkward pose that makes my legs feel as if they might pop out of my hip sockets.
Like most people, I hate being uncomfortable. I hate being afraid. I hate feeling sadness, and loss, and loneliness. But rather than trying to deal with discomfort (this includes yoga class, as I yet again completely failed to balance on one foot in tree pose), I default to anger and do my best thousand-yard stare. Once in high school, my friends asked me why I was mad. I actually wasn’t angry; I was cold—physically uncomfortable. From then on, yelling “Angry Libby!” became a joke between us.
After the second half of my micro-revelation in class, did I immediately become a ray of sunshine? Did I suddenly see beauty all around me in the dim (but not dim enough) studio? Did I truly mean it when I said “namaste” at the end of class?
No. In fact, I only pretended to say namaste and may or may not have rolled my eyes when the teacher told us, “The teacher in me honors the teacher in you” (emphasis hers).
I’d like to think this was a small victory, though, in the fight against Angry Libby.
Libby Stille (’13) lives in St. Paul and works in the marketing department of a children’s publishing company in downtown Minneapolis. She recommends that everyone visit the Twin Cities, but only between June and October, unless you enjoy subzero windchills and slipping on ice.