Today I went to yoga. I have a love-hate relationship with it. I love the idea of it; I love how I feel after I’ve done it, but I hate how slow it is. And that is exactly what hit me today as I was in the middle of a strenuous pose. What I actually thought of was something my college roommate used to say.
In school, I roomed with Melinda for three years. They called us Mel and Kel, and she played a large role in almost all of my college shenanigans. She had one joke or story that I specifically remember she used to tell. I can’t do it justice in writing because she had actions that went along with it. She would put her hands on both sides of her head near her ears and squish her face together, making her cheeks look bigger. Then she would tell whoever was listening that her name was Pudgy, and she was riding on her uncle's motorcycle. She would beg him to go faster in the funny voice she used to tell it. The uncle repeatedly declined but when he finally agreed, Melinda would quickly pull her face back tight toward her ears and yell “Slow Down.” You’ll have to trust me that it’s really funny in person.
This is what I thought of in yoga today. Keeping a straight face was difficult, but it probably hinged on the fact that yesterday I received another “slow down” message.
I was mowing the lawn and getting up the leaves. I love doing that. It feels so cathartic somehow to get the jumble of leaves picked up, leaving empty green grass behind. Only yesterday I wasn’t focused on enjoying it, I was focused on getting it done – quickly. In my haste, I didn’t pay attention the way I should have and the hood of the leaf bagger came down on my head - hard. I didn’t just see stars, I saw the whole cartoon of tweety birds flying around my head.
No time to bother with that though, I had things to do. I moved on to the next item on my to-do list when suddenly I developed a headache, got very dizzy, and more than a little throw-uppy. It was an order to slow down not just a suggestion, so I did, but only because I had to.
Earlier in the day I’d had to go to a meeting. It was an orientation for a position I had accepted at church. I walked into the meeting, ready to go over everything and be on my way. It wasn’t shaping up to be that kind of meeting, and I got worried. How long was this going to take? But there was nothing I could do so I settled in. And surprise! It turned out to be interesting, informative, and even funny. There were things more important than getting it done and checking it off the list. There were relationships to establish. After all, we are going to be working together for the next three years. We need to have a solid basis and trust to really be effective.
Although I learned something in the meeting, apparently it didn’t stick because today I got frustrated with traffic because it was slowing me down from getting to yoga on time - so that I could learn to slow down.
In yoga the teacher started off slower than usual – more breath work, more slow stretches. She held the poses longer. And suddenly - it finally hit me. Slow down. Really slow down. Breathe. Enjoy the ride. It, whatever It is, doesn’t have to be done right this minute and in the fastest time possible. Or even exactly the way I want it done.
Maybe someone else’s idea and method is better. Maybe, just maybe, yoga can give me flexibility in many areas of my life. Maybe it’s an actual way of life instead of a practice on my mat every Wednesday.
Maybe Lao Tzu knew a thing or two when he said, “Nature does not hurry and yet everything gets accomplished.” And he probably doesn’t have a goose egg on his noggin either.