I just finished the second week of the P90X fitness program.
I went into the program expecting to be challenged and to struggle. I’m not in great shape. I have very little experience in strength training. I’ve been in an exercise rut that could possibly go on indefinitely. So while I was willing to give it a shot, I didn’t expect to be especially successful in any regard.
That said, I also didn’t expect to struggle so much with the yoga portion.
Here’s the thing—I’d done the Yoga X workout before, outside the constraints of the program. It was certainly challenging, but it was more or less doable. On the other hand, I knew I would have trouble with some other aspects of the program. I can’t do a pull-up (honestly, I can barely hang from the bar for more than I few seconds), I have to do push-ups on my knees if I want to do more than three, and I had no interest whatsoever in doing any plyometrics activities (my knees cringed just at the thought).
I expected those things to be tough…But I didn’t expect to become so frustrated with the yoga portion.
So imagine my immense disappointment when I found myself tumbling and fumbling through this week’s Yoga X session, failing to hit any pose quite right…including the ones that I’d done so well on the previous week. After a week and a half of working out regularly, my muscles felt sore and tight, despite warming up and moving at my own (slower) pace. My ability to balance was nowhere to be found. I felt distracted from the workout and agitated with myself. I wanted to quit and just say that this workout was a wash.
As I powered through the long, long, long 90 minutes of Yoga X, it was all I could do to reel myself in and avoid the huge temper tantrum that I was suddenly dying to have. I felt so out of control of my body.
Despite the fact that my brain was totally clogged up by all of this junk, I started to become aware of how the negative self-talk was affecting me. The workout was getting harder and harder and my attitude was getting worse and worse.
And that’s when it clicked.
Prior to that day, if you’d asked me for one characteristic that I’d use to describe myself, it would be that I’m very, very patient. Being patient helped me be successful at my last job—a hotel position where I had to regularly work with challenging people. It helps me when I’m working as a nanny. And it helps me in really any scenario that involves dealing with other people in potentially difficult situations. Being super patient has allowed me to tackle a number of situations that could have otherwise been really overwhelming. It’s what I’m good at.
You know, except when it comes to me.
It seems that the patience that I was so certain about before goes completely out the window when I’m doing something that’s tough just for me. Instead of meeting these challenges head-on, my reaction is more of panic. And instead of being gentle with myself through the process, I’m agitated with my inability to manage the new situation right away.
That yoga session was a huge reality check for me. Knowing that I would be completing the workout that day forced me to re-group and check in with myself, simply so that I could make it through the 90 minutes without giving in to the huge temper tantrum that was threatening to explode all over Tony Horton, warrior pose #3, and any suggestion to “just breathe through the discomfort.”
It was okay that I was struggling through postures I’d done successfully before—I could modify them and still get a great workout.
It was okay that my balance was totally off this week—I could get back into a posture if I tumbled…No big deal.
It was okay that I couldn’t stretch my arms a certain way (despite being able to do it the week before)—the tightness and soreness was an indicator of just how hard I’d been working out lately.
I was still frustrated. I was still challenged. But I was beginning to accept that yoga was going to be as tough for me as any of the other workout sessions…and that I just needed to be patient with myself during the process.
I finished the workout.
It wasn’t my strongest workout. It wasn’t the one I felt best about. But I felt more connected to myself and my body than ever before.
And isn’t that what yoga is really about?