by Char Brooks
Before reading beyond this first sentence, I invite you to pause, take a nice deep inhale, pause another second, and then a long slow exhale – and consider what the phrase “just try” means to you.
Did you do it? Maybe? Not sure? No problem. Whether you did it or not – just try…again.
Just try. Just the teeny tiny-est bit of attention to lowering your tailbone towards the floor.
W-h-aaaa-t?? What does that even mean? What tailbone? What floor? What are YOU talking about?
And then, as if the teacher was reading my mental reactions and resistance, she says, “It’s ok if you don’t think you can….
You may recognize this phrase from class. I recognize it from my very first class at BYCA.
Sometimes in my brain I hear “Just $@%^-ing try”. However, that is only the meaning that I add to the instruction. The teacher didn’t actually say that!!
At first, in my head, I was extremely defiant.
“You can’t make me!”
“In the middle of this pose where I feel like I can hardly breathe, you want me to find my left big toe??? Are you kidding me?”
“Leave me alone – I’ll do what I want here.”
At the same time, the smallest part of me was just a little willing to consider “just try” as an invitation to pay attention . . . . to my breath, my body, and to staying engaged in the practice.
Over time I became more interested in keeping my attention on my own practice, focusing my mind on my body, and breathing normally.
Six months in….
Here’s what “just try” means to me right this minute.
It means to breathe into the sides of my waist. As I do this – while I’m typing – my back straightens up, my shoulders relax down my back, my chin lowers, and the top of my head stretches towards the sky.
Wow – I feel much better than I did 30 seconds ago, when I was hunching over my laptop!
And I’m not even in class!!
What does “Just Try” look like?
That is what it looks like for me right now. That is what it feels like.
Not just a phrase…a way of life
“Just try” has actually been a cornerstone of my practice. And of my life in general since I started (in October 2016).
No matter what the pose, or where I am, I do my best to just try.
How does “just try” show up when I’m in class?
The teacher says to “just try” and pull in and up from the sides of my waist…
But for me, I can’t see that my attention is even in that area of my body. And I know that I am doing my best to put my attention right there. I start to notice just where my attention actually is as I continue to stay with the teacher’s voice and allow myself to be led into the postures.
And miraculously, over time, over the course of several more classes, I notice that the shape of the middle of my body is more visible. Right below my ribs on both sides. I can actually see it move a teeny tiny bit as I breathe into it. Just the teeeny-est bit of aliveness shows up there.
So why does this matter?
I can see the muscles of my stomach. I couldn’t see them before.
In fact, I had never, ever – not until 6 months into practicing this yoga – seen them. Not when I was a skinny 7-year-old in a red-and-white ruffled bikini. Not when I was newly married and quite thin. Not when I was pregnant, not postpartum. Not through all of the yoga practices I have done over the past 40 plus years.
So this is just another post about someone’s abdominal muscles? About someone looking better from doing a yoga class?
No, not even close.
This is a reflection on me starting to believe that it makes a difference what I pay attention to.
This is the real game-changer.
This is a reflection about how this yoga practice has shown me that I can focus my brain in an area of my body and that my body actually has the ability to respond. It has created a new kind of faith in myself that keeps me going back to class every day.
And why does that matter?
Why does it matter that I go back every day?
Because over time, my experience has been that my arthritis doesn’t hurt as much.
I am finding that I can make decisions easier.
I now can balance the checkbook in under two minutes.
Conversations which were difficult ones for me to have before are now easier to have because my responses are actually honest, reflecting my true feelings.
And why does all of that matter?
Because I love feeling good.
Part of feeling good is having less chronic pain. But I also I feel good when I make decisions that reflect my true feelings. I feel good when I can handle my finances efficiently. I feel good when I’m laughing and having fun.
For me, the phrase “just try” is now an integral part of my daily life. Many times a day, I take a deep breath as I transition from one thing to another – I “just try” and before I even know it, I’m drinking more water, eating more nutritiously, and getting 8 hours of sleep on a consistent basis.
Who knew that the phrase “just try” would be the secret ingredient to successful, happy living?
Certainly not me. I’m just so grateful I was willing to just try.
About your guest blogger:
Char Brooks is a 61-year-old Bikram Yoga student who has been practicing this form of yoga at BYCA for 7 months. She has practiced and studied yoga for over 40 years, beginning when she was about 20, and she has practiced meditation daily for approximately 15 years. Char earned a teacher training certification in vinyasa from Jonny Kest’s Center for Yoga and has practiced Iyengar, Kripalu, Restorative and Yin yoga. She continues to meditate twice daily and practices with an online studio regularly at home in addition to attending BYCA approximately 4-5 times a week.