Get excited! I say this a lot in class. Usually with a wee touch of sarcasm. I like to toss it out just prior to offering up a doozy of a pose like Warrior III or revolved half moon. For those new to yoga, these are ugly poses (in my opinion anyway). Ever see one on the cover of Yoga Journal? Nope. More likely to see bendy Bob in giant back bend or badass Betty in a handstand. So my invitation to Get Excited! gets people laughing. Because what’s the alternative? Laughing in an ugly pose sure beats grimacing and silently cursing the teacher.
But as in life, there’s an important place for the ugly poses. Ugly poses humble us, strengthen us, frustrate us, and with time and consistency, shift us into a new way of thinking. I thought about the ugly poses and their place in life this morning at a class in Seattle as a friend/yoga teacher opened with an invitation to Get Excited! Crap, I thought…here comes revolved half moon and we haven’t even gotten past child’s pose yet. Mercifully, unlike me, my sweet teacher left out the sarcasm and simply encouraged us to feel excitement. She went on to share the evil side of excitement, which can zap our energy and get us agitated if we don’t manage it physically and mentally. This is where yoga comes in, of course. Great lesson for the day.
But for me, in thinking about excitement throughout class, I was focused on the uglies. As I moved into WIII (I pose I actually love, because it works the entire body), I got excited about the challenge of resisting the urge to peel open my hip (gotta make it prettier!). In revolved half moon, I wanted my teacher to come over and literally yank my chest open and pull my extended leg back a few feet to alter what my version of the pose produced: a quarter moon blocked by a rogue planet fighting for center stage. Every time an ugly came up, whether it was a pose, or some thought temporarily hijacking my practice, I got excited. Excited by the challenge of facing it head on, knowing that life is always throwing ugly stuff our way, and that there is real beauty in seeing what that ugly pose/event/encounter/thought/fear can teach us. If everything was pretty, we’d be ugly sloths with nothing to do all day.
An image of the lotus flower came to mind during my ugly exploration this morning. The flower in full bloom is breathtaking, but it’s journey toward beauty begins in a brown, muddy heap.
So Get Excited! yogis and friends. There is so much beauty beyond the uglies.