My gym always has really inspirational quotes on a board as you enter. This was the one that greeted me as I walked into yoga on Wednesday. It hit close to home that day.
I entered the yoga studio, unrolled my mat and tried to focus. I was in the advanced class for the first time, and I was nervous.
As we began, the instructor sat at the front of the room and relayed a story to us:
When she was little, she would go up to Valleyfair and visit the petting zoo. As in most petting zoos, you could pay to get food to feed some of the animals. She got a handful of feed and brought it over to the billy goats.
Being a fair child, she wanted to make sure each goat got the same amount. But one greedy goat kept pushing and butting in for more. She kept ignoring him, which he didn’t like, and before long he head-butted her in the stomach. Don’t worry, she assured us, she was fine. But it did take her by surprise.
Our thoughts are like those billy goats, she explained. There will always be pushy thoughts, ones that try to grab all your attention. If you ignore them, they’ll build and build and become a monster, but if you pay too much attention to them, they’ll get even more clingy and become a different kind of monster.
The trick is to find balance. Recognize your pushy thoughts and then let them pass. Let your quiet thoughts and ideas have freedom to be.
As she’s explaining this, it all is making sense to me, but in a very general way. Yes, recognize your thoughts and let them go, don’t let something overwhelm you, yaddah yaddah yaddah.
But then she struck a cord. “I am giving my all, and that is enough.” Don’t let these poses intimidate you, she said. Bring your whole self to the mat, and that is enough.
DING! It all clicked. Don’t be intimidated by the others in the class; don’t let the poses be a pushy billy goat. Do the pose, find your limitation, and find the balance.
Occupy the present.
It was a fulfilling class. No, I couldn’t do all of the poses, but I did modifications that worked for my body. No, I wasn’t the most graceful, but I was there, giving my all, and that was enough.