Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Growth Mindset and the Zero Gravity Yoga Class

I recently joined a yoga studio with the goals of increasing my strength and flexibility, finding a community of like minded people, and stress relief. This is the first step on my journey back to fitness. Enthusiastic and optimistic, I signed up for a variety of yoga classes: restorative yoga, yin yoga and hatha yoga. I posted to Facebook about my new found yoga studio, and texted my friends.
“It even has one of those classes where you hang from the fabric like Pink!” I texted my friend Lori. Though at the time I had no intentions of ever joining one of those classes. 

However, after perusing the studio's course listings I changed my mind.  The description of the antigravity restorative yoga class for all levels sounded appealing even to someone who hasn’t been exercising regularly for the past year. Words like: no prerequisites, gentle, healing, levitating meditations, and floating sivasana lured me in. The real clincher was the phrase, “It offers accessibility to students with physical limitations”  Perfect! Just a click and I was signed up for the class. 

Up until the moment I walked into the studio, I was excited about doing this new thing, taking risks and being brave. I was plucky and proud. 

I checked into the studio, stowed my jacket and shoes and began to wonder exactly what I was doing taking this class. Nervous, I tried to chat up some of my fellow students, many of whom seemed to already know one another. They sat in the fabric hammocks that were suspended from the ceiling as they chatted. I stood off to the side, noticing that I was older and heavier than most of these people. Confidence shrinking now, I asked one of the students how long she had been doing the zero gravity classes. “Oh, three or four months” she said with a serious and unfriendly face. “You don’t belong here!” said the voice in my head.  A few other people trickled into the class and everyone took a fabric hammock as the teacher took her place at the front of the room. 

All of the hammocks closest to the door were taken. No easy escape for me. It took me three or four tries just to get myself hoisted into the hammock like everyone else. The teacher came to each student to check the height of their hammock. It turns out mine was too high for me. Relief flooded my mind. She lowered the hammock and I hoisted myself up. Now I was swinging around just like the others! Hooray! 

Our first instructions were to lift our right leg up and over to straddle the hammock like a saddle or a giant wedgie. I lifted my leg as high up as I could, and I put it back down and looked around to see that everyone else had managed to straddle their hammock. I shifted myself in the hammock and tried again. Eventually, I resorted to trying to grab my right foot as I lifted my leg. It took me three times to catch my foot. After considerable struggle, I was in the correct position. This was going to be interesting. We didn’t stay in that position as long as it took me to get into it. 

Visions of Lucille Ball trying to keep up at the chocolate factory flashed in my head as I did the best I could to follow along.  Everyone seemed to fit in their hammocks with ease while mine felt like spanx. Despite my clumsy pulling and tugging of the hammock and having to make several attempts for each pose, I was able to do some form of about three of the seven poses. Eventually, the teacher came around and lowered the hammocks to about a foot off the ground. I stepped into the hammock, terrified that my weight would pull the thing all the way to the floor leaving no room to swing. It didn’t touch the ground! Alright! Now I would be able to do all of the poses, I said to myself, nearly tripping, as my foot got stuck in the hammock. 

One of the poses involved sitting in the hammock and leaning back, letting your shoulders rest on the floor. I got into this pose successfully.  Hanging on to the hammock with both hands like a swing, we hoisted ourselves up for the next pose. Use your feet to push yourself four steps back were the next instructions. When I was doing that, I lost traction and began to swing forward in my hammock. I tried to stop myself with my Flintstones feet brakes as I clawed at the fabric of my hammock trying to pull myself more upright, but my body kept swinging as my feet slipped and slid below me like a wet dog scrambling to get out of a bathtub. There I was swinging out of control, trying desperately to stop myself as my still classmates gracefully curved and turned and bent in their beautiful poses. I can still hear the sound of my feet sliding around on the floor as my hammock slowly came to a stop.

Thankfully, I was able to get myself into the position for floating sivasana, our last pose. Lying flat, in the hammock, like a cocoon. The teacher came around and offered to swing us in the darkened room. It was lovely. Tears of joy, relief and humiliation rolled down my cheeks as I drifted back and forth imagining myself one day being able to gracefully go through all the poses. But for now, I did it. I tried this new thing, and I think I just might try it again.  After class,  I texted my friend Lori. "Guess what I just did?!"  Pink would be so proud.  


“I’m learning to be brave in my beautiful mistakes.” PINK

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