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.