Propped Up

help me out

I recently took a Power Flow class and I modified the entire thing.  I dropped my knees to the floor in Chaturanga, opened my heart with gentle Baby Cobras, I used blocks in Triangle, and opted for supported Bridge instead of the demanding and powerful Wheel.  Now usually, Power Flow is a class where I push my muscles until they burn.  I rock arm balances, try to float into handstands, and basically work my asana off sweating, breathing and moving through a VERY intense practice.   I sometimes take Power Flow classes when I feel angry.  Sometimes when I feel fat.  I always go in there to work HARD.

But this day, I was tired.  My body was sore from the previous days’ Power Flow, and I had just walked an hour to get to the studio.  I hid in the far back corner of the room and gave myself permission to take it easy.   To not float, fly and contort my body into crazy poses, but instead, to keep a smooth, steady breath throughout the entire 90 minutes.  And it.  Felt.  Amazing.

So the question I propose is this:  why is it so difficult for us to modify?  What is so wrong or shameful about choosing to not go balls-to-the-wall, 150% effort, all of the time?  Isn’t that certainly a recipe for injury and burnout?  How did our egos get so full of pride and so simultaneously insecure that we cannot allow ourselves to reach for a prop now and again to give us support?  I have been practicing for 6 years now, and I have NEVER allowed myself to practice like that.  Let alone, the fact that I had to HIDE in the corner in order to feel comfortable enough to do so.

What if we also decided to modify our lives?  To take out of the equation the things that make it hard to breathe easy:  The stressful job that allows you no time for your family.  The toxic relationship that makes it impossible to know yourself.  The never ending nose-to-the-grindstone-struggle to seek perfection.  And what if, instead of doing it all on our own, we paused for a moment to ask for support???

I moved out when I was barely 18.  I’ve lived across the continent from my family and been on my own since then.  Because there was a lot of divorce in my childhood I’ve masked feelings of abandonment and insecurity with a fierce independence.  If I don’t rely on anyone, then no one can disappoint or hurt me when they don’t come through.   And so I hold my head up high, and I do it all on my own.  I’ve always felt like I had to.  As a kid, I was Little Orphan Annie for Halloween three years in a row….hah!—a therapist would’ve had a heyday with that one!  Needless to say, it is very challenging for me to ask for help.  It’s almost never easy for me to grab that metaphorical block and use it to prop me up…to alleviate some effort so that I can just breathe.

Recently, I was supposed to meet up with a friend in New York.  And after repetitive phone calls with no response, I finally made other plans.  Only later, I discovered, that because he’d had such a stressful week at work, he’d taken a Xanax and passed out for the day, unable to answer his phone.  My mental response: “Maybe it’s time for a career change.”  I mean, isn’t that just too much stress?

We live in a society that shouts out daily, “Go big or go home.”   Most of us have responsibilities, jobs and daily tasks that are not conducive to modifications.  Imagine saying to your boss, “No sir, I will NOT be getting that report in on time because I am modifying today.”  Probably not going to fly.  Understandably, sometimes, that is just life.

But couldn’t we start relying on our communities; our friends, families and loved ones to prop us up from time to time, without feeling weak, or inadequate or guilty?  Could we swallow our pride and ask for help?

I’m working on that one.  Working to ask for support when I need it.  And in the meantime, you might catch me hiding in the corner of a Power Flow class, propped up, modifying and breathing easy.



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