I’m Not Meant to Feel Like This

The first time a yoga teacher ever impacted my life beyond the mat was in frog pose (pictured above.) Frog post is a kind of split, it is is really painful, and at my yoga studio in college, we ended every class doing it for about 5 minutes. Ouch!

But one day, as we were all crouched there with burning legs, my teacher said, “I know this hurts, but imagine this was It. The rest of your life was just going to be frog pose forever. How would you find a way to bear it–even enjoy it. If this was life, how would you make it work it for you?”

It’s a philosophy I’ve used many a time after that, but rarely on the yoga mat. Every time I’m in some really horrendous situation that’s causing me tremendous pain, I think, “imagine if this was life. Imagine if there was no way out. How will I make this bearable?” In short, I’ve endured all kinds of crap by telling myself to imagine that there was no way out, that was I was stuck, and I’d just have to find a way to enjoy it.

This method helps one develop a solid, sarcastic, self-deprecating sense of humor, but I’m starting to learn that it does not actually help one to be remotely happy. What’s happy about pretending that life is a series of miniature entrapments in painful positions? Nothing, I guess. But it still never occurred to me that I had a choice, until tonight.

Teacher Training Weekend 6 was wrapping up, and we were going over poses that are safe for beginners. Suddenly, for no reason, I turned my friend and whispered, “what happened to frog pose? I haven’t done a frog in, like, 4 years” Apparently she had never done a frog pose ever so I forgot all about it until my teacher started mentioning poses one should never teach, because they were so dangerous and rife with possibility for serious injury.

“Russian split is one,” she told us emphatically. I’d never heard of it, but when she demonstrated, my jaw dropped. I pointed and squeaked, poking my friend. “It’s frog! It’s frog!”

So, lesson learned: The next time you are in a position (life, mat, otherwise) that feels really painful, instead of telling yourself you’re trapped and forcing yourself to like it, find someone who can will tell you that agony is actually a bad thing, and mandate that you never do it again.



9 thoughts on “I’m Not Meant to Feel Like This

  1. Amen, sister! Well, sorta.

    I mean, I'm totally behind the idea of not forcing anything. Forcing = damage of some kind, always.

    But right now I'm putting myself through a bit of agony in the form of twice weekly early morning boot camp/personal training sessions, plus cycling to work and back, plus normal yoga classes, my teacher training, plus an extra and brand new (to me) yoga form on Sunday mornings.

    That's some kind of agony. But not in the I'm-about-to-do-some-soft-tissue-damage kinda way. Although I guess that'd be possible if I decided to force myself too hard in any one of those situations.

    There's a time when I would have done just that. But luckily yoga, time and too many sports injuries have taught me a smarter way. Which is, put some effort in, do try but don't try to kill yourself. Luckily, the dude running boot camp gets that too and he's not unnecessarily pushy.

    BTW, I've always hated frog too, and thought it was used too freely in many a yoga class…

  2. I actually don't recall ever doing frog pose until this past friday…though I'm probably forgetting some…anyway, suffice to say I hope it'll be long enough before the next for me to forget this one…

  3. Thank goodness. I also agree- forcing through pain isn't something I would readily assume is healthy. I'm not about to pull a tendon or muscle just for a life lesson thank you very much.

    I think it's one of the reasons students need to know their bodies and be encouraged to stand up when they feel pain.

    At the same time, I have a few friends that will give up at the first little peep of strain- child's pose, child's pose, child's pose. The result- they never build stamina or strength. I think there is a balance- and the only person who knows is yourself. 🙂

  4. HOLY Poo- I just read that Bikram post svasti, and I cannot believe people pay 11000$ for that crap.

    That type of training makes me angry.

    reason number 500 why I am not a fan of Bikram.

  5. Wow, this was a great post. It sure generated some interesting comments, too.
    That photo of frog pose is altogether creepy, and the pose sounds the same.


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