Laura* comes to hot yoga every day.
Possibly twice a day – she’s there whichever class I go to.
She’s out of shape and overweight.
She doesn’t look like someone who exercises strenuously every day.
And she doesn’t. Exercise strenuously.
She spends most of the class on her mat
Lying flat on her back in Corpse Pose, the relaxation pose,
Or curled up in fetal Child’s Pose, the restorative pose.
Many people wonder why she bothers to come.
I know why she comes.
She’s changing her mind about herself.
She’s redefining herself as someone who works out every day.
As someone who is worth the time to dedicate to her own well-being.
As someone who takes good care of herself.
She talks to me as if she does the class.
She’ll ask me if I came last night, and tell me what a tough class it was.
Or comment on what a great class we just did.
Even though, every class, she’s mostly lying face up or down on her mat.
There are other people who are physically similar to her at the studio.
And they grunt and groan and sigh their way through the class.
Clearly it’s a struggle and they hate it and they’re there with great resistance.
They’re angry with themselves, and yoga is their punishment.
But not Laura.
She’s there with joy and appreciation.
And guess what, yesterday I saw her transition from Warrior 1 to Modified Triangle.
Today she did a few Downward Dogs, and an attempt at Tree Pose.
Laura’s doing exactly what Martha Beck, in her 4Day Win, suggests to fledgling exercisers.
When Martha wanted to get fit, her goal for the first 4 days was to drive to the gym, sit in the parking lot, and listen to two songs.
Here’s the thing: she actually congratulated herself on achieving her goal, and went home.
The next 4 days, she upped it to four songs inside the gym, and she was done.
Now I can hear what most people would say: “who’re you kidding?” “that’s not going to get you anywhere.” “grow up and get on the treadmill.” right?
Well, that doesn’t feel good, to be spoken to like that, and I personally wouldn’t go back to a place that made me feel that way.
Martha’s approach worked.
On the eighth day, she found she didn’t need any more baby steps, hopped onto the equipment, and is now extremely fit, muscly and quite addicted.
The kicker, for me, is that she dressed in workout clothes.
She was redefining herself, very gently and with no resistance or fear, as a woman who went to the gym every day.
I believe Laura will succeed.
She will persist, and she’ll get stronger and more flexible and comfortable with the poses, and she will participate more and more in the classes.
That’s because she has no resistance to this process.
She’s doing it out of self-love and kindness.
It’s obvious that it feels good to her to come and be a part of this studio.
And when something feels good, it means we’re telling ourselves we’re doing something good.
And we humans, just like our pets, we like to feel good.
So we keep doing whatever makes us feel good.
(not her real name)