It’s been a very, very long while since I’ve hit a state of almost complete physical and mental fatigue. Yesterday, for the first time since I started this yoga teacher training, I actually had to release myself from a pose before the teacher gave the instruction to do so (my groin muscles were beginning to cramp).
It was a humbling experience on several levels: (1) because everyone else managed to maintain the pose until the end; (2) because if there’s one particular fitness attribute (I thought) I safely possessed, it’s stamina; and (3) because Virabhadrasana is a pose I’ve executed countless times. At the end of it, I sank to the floor, sweat dripping and knees trembling, aware in ways I hadn’t realized before that there is still so much more I need to learn and so much further I need to go.
All of which reminds me of a conversation I had with a training assistant who had spent six years in Mysore in India, training directly with the daughter and grandson of the man who had created the current form of Ashtanga yoga. How long did it take you to get through all your kinks, J.? I asked her while we labored up the hill to the shala. She snorted. It takes a lifetime, sweetheart. She laughed at my expression and added: You get better at dealing with it though. You start knowing what to expect, and you get that all of it—the good and the bad—is just part of the practice.
So it’s just as well that I start getting schooled in the hard knocks now.