Growth and Coincidence

Look, ma! No feet!

I watched the clock in my car turn to 1:55 yesterday in the parking lot of Yoga Harmony and could feel my heart beat a little faster. I was afraid I might be late to my inversions workshop, and I hate being late.

I couldn’t stop listening to a storyteller on NPR talk about coincidences and odds*. I needed to hear the end because I knew my mind wouldn’t rest if I cut it off early. Finally he wrapped up and I sprinted inside.

I was the last student to rush into the studio and unroll my mat. I didn’t have a choice of spots – I set up next to another woman who looked at my yoga supplies and asked, “Is that a terrible towel?”

It was. Turns out she also grew up in Upper Saint Clair in Pittsburgh – the same place my husband’s family lives. What are the odds? We quickly became partners when we were told that we’d help each other get up into the air.

After years of dabbling in yoga and months of taking it more seriously, I’m just now beginning to recognize my strengths and weaknesses. For example, if I’m not able to do a pose, I can finally feel in my body what needs to change in order to do that. For example, for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been able to feel the quiver in my lower abdomen that signified the need for more crunches before a successful headstand. I wish I’d known to look for things like that before – when I was a beginner, I should have just accepted where I was instead of trying to be a yoga rock star. There was no need – I would have enjoyed my journey more if I’d just accepted where I was.

I’ve wanted to tell people this for a while, especially when I see beginners kicking their own butts in class. I’m not looking at them, but I can still sense their frustration from their breath and energy. “Slow down,” I want to say, “this is just part of the journey,” And many more times than I’d like to admit, I need to take my own advice.

I saw my new friend easily falling prey to this trap as everyone’s feet rose to the ceiling. She was relatively new to yoga and was having trouble, as all of us do. A couple of teachers came over to help, but still it was a struggle. I finally told her what I thought: that I was a big fan of slow but steady growth in yoga, and encouraged her to discover the places she needed to strengthen or gain flexibility before moving forward.

It seems like a small accomplishment, but helping someone else who wanted help in their yoga practice is a big step for me. I’ve never done it before and I’ve always wanted to. When we went around the room to show off our favorite inversions, she volunteered to go first. She went up into headstand prep, floated her toes above the mat, then came down.

“It’s not much, but I’m proud of it,” she said when she was back on her feet.

I was proud, too. We both grew in our inversions, and I got my first taste of encouraging growth in another yogi.

After class, we talked some more and found out that we’re both unemployed teachers, musicians, and (relatively) new residents Nashville and made plans to get together.

What are the odds?

I really don’t know. But I am sure glad I stayed in my car so long to listen to that radio story about coincidences.

*For those who are curious, I was listening to This American Life – click here to check out the story I was listening to!

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