Yoga: On rebuilding strength

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“You’ve lost quite a bit of strength there,” my yoga teacher Marc told me after class.

After over a month of not practicing yoga, and showing up only once a week in the last three weeks, my lack of practice was evident. Marc led a pretty chill class today (well, “chill” at least by his, uh, normally punishing standards) and as I expected, I totally struggled.

I had signed up for a foundations class, but he decided to make it open level and I was so rusty. The Surya Bs I had previously flowed through with ease saw mostly shaky planks, stiff downward dogs, and the transitions from warrior 1 to chaturanga to upward-facing dog had me literally gasping for breath every single time. Where was that rhythm I once had?? While I found that I could still more or less reach the same level of depth in my side angle and triangle poses, I couldn’t hold them as long. By the third set of inhales and exhales, my legs were shaking (violently) and begging for relief. And let’s not even go to the lunge twists, back bends, and half-moons—I couldn’t do them without falling off to the side.

Needless to say, I left class with my clothes drenched with sweat and my spirits a bit defeated. Yep, the muscles I had built up over the last two years are asleep again. Or they had turned into fat as my friend Carlo had oh-so-happily pointed out when he saw me in Singapore. “Your arms aren’t toned anymore,” he told me, quite smugly until I pointed out the pimples on his face one by one. (We have a very brutally honest friendship. haha)

Admittedly, I’m not too happy about this discovery that my body is not as fit as it was a mere one and a half month ago. But on the other hand I’m glad I finally got ground zero out of the way—even if it didn’t really uplift me the way I imagined it would. I realized today that finding yourself back in Point A is quite different when you’re picking up where you left off. Compared to being a beginner, you’ve reaped the benefits of having already unlocked Point B, C, D, and so on. It’s frustrating that what you once deemed within easy reach is again something you need to consciously work at getting.

Oh well. Maybe this time around the lesson yoga will teach me is patience.

It’s going to take a whole lot of commitment and struggle to get myself back in tiptop shape again (read: ignoring that sleepy voice in my head telling me to go to yoga tomorrow, not today, tomorrow), but I’m confident I’ll get there eventually. “There” being the state where I’ll come out of a class surprised and awed by the level of depth my body reached that day—and if it’s Marc’s class, the level of torture it endured 😛

For now, I guess practice will be all about rebuilding the strength I had lost—slowly, surely, steadily. (Look at me with all the S-es!!)

And I guess that is okay.