Yesterday while I was scuffling through the first part of my third yoga class in a 25 hour span, not an easy task for an out-of-shape beginner, the instructor said something that completely changed my perspective.
I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it today.
She told the class, and I’m paraphrasing, “Feel lucky that you have this opportunity to push yourself. Feel lucky that you have a body that allows you to challenge it in this way.”
I can tell you that I sure as hell wasn’t feeling lucky in the moments preceding this statement.
How lucky I was
I was on all fours, sticking my hips and ass up in the air while pushing my shoulders back (“downward-facing dog” position, it’s called), and then lifting one leg high in the air, bringing it through to the elbow, holding it for five seconds, and then morphing it into a side plank.
I hope that sounds painful, because it is painful…at least to an inflexible greenhorn like me.
And frankly, I was being way too easy on myself. I was allowing myself to make excuses to not hold the position, to give in to fatigue, to be lazy with technique.
This all seemed perfectly justified because I didn’t have to be there. I couldn’t have even really gotten upset with myself if I had walked out, because it was my second class of the day, after all, and third in the last two.
Somehow I had gotten it into my head that I’d succeeded just by showing up. That somehow the room was lucky just to have me there, plus whatever I felt like contributing.
Then this calmingly perky instructor – the one with bright blonde hair, a voice soothing like ice cream on a summer day, and absurd flexibility – said her amazing words.
My attitude was immediately transformed.
I was the one who was lucky to be there.
How lucky was I to be healthy enough to decide on a whim to make it a two-a-day yoga day? How lucky was I to have this place to go to, not three minutes from my apartment, to challenge my body and mind to improve?
Immediately, instead of thinking of all the things I probably would not be able to do because I was a little fatigued, I immediately started trying to figure out what I could do.
- By focusing on my breathing, I found I could summon a peaceful, calm strength I had not been tapping into.
- By improving my technique, I found that I could hold the poses longer and get better stretches.
- By smiling and enjoying my good fortune at just being able to be there, I found it much easier to ward off the feelings of pain and laziness that had been infiltrating my practice just moments earlier.
Just like that. With just a few words, everything changed. And the words didn’t leave me when the class over.
How lucky we all are
I’ve been thinking about them today as I sit here at my office.
- How lucky am I to have a job I really enjoy and people I like working with?
- How lucky am I to have this computer to work on?
- How lucky am I to have this website setup, hosted, and available to me anytime I want to come jot down some thoughts?
- How lucky am I to have a car so I can drive home at lunch, walk my dog, and then walk a little more by myself in the energizing spring sun?
- How lucky am I to have good health and sound mind so that I may take advantage of all of this and so much more?
And how lucky am I to have that particular yoga teacher on that particular day in that particular moment to say the exact words I needed to hear?
Pretty lucky. Really lucky.
We’re all lucky. Every single one of us. No matter the circumstance, there are reasons to be thankful that we are in it, even if they may be momentarily hard to find.
Sometimes it just takes a shift in perspective to see that which is being blocked by the pervasive evils of negativity or pessimism.
Sometimes if just takes a step back to see what we have rather than what we don’t have. Too often we focus more on the latter than we do on the former. I know I do.
I was doing exactly that yesterday in the middle of that class, focusing on the energy and the strength I thought I didn’t have rather than looking at what I did have…which was much more enthusiasm and determination than I’d thought, plus energy and strength I had not yet willed myself to tap into.
So my question to you, as we get set to embark on this holiday weekend, is what are you lucky to have in your life right now?
I don’t even mean in general. I mean right now, right in front of you.
Right now I am literally looking at the shoes on my feet and the clothes on my back; the veggies from this kind and giving earth I am eating as a snack, the smart phone in front of me that performs 8 billion tasks…and each of them I am so lucky to have, which I remember when I remind myself not to take them for granted.
Somewhere, receiving just one these items on their own would make someone’s day, or their month, or perhaps even their year. I simply round them all up without thinking about it before going to work.
This weekend I’ll be able to see friends and see family. I’ll be able to spend time doing fun things with fun people I care about.
Damn I’m lucky.
We all are.
Sometimes we just need to be reminded.
Thank you Jeanna H. from Life Time Fitness for reminding me.