For the last 23 days I have been participating in an Instagram Yoga Challenge. I want to quit. For a whole slew of reasons. The most glaring and superficial reason is that I really cannot stand IG yoga challenges. I tend to be very judgey and critical of them- they stir up too many attention grabbing shadow aspects of my ego and leave me feeling a mixture of pissed off and forlorn. I also cannot stand looking through my instagram account and seeing tons of yoga poses. It feels unbalanced and one-sided as oppossed to expressive of the more diverse and varied images of our daily life. Also, I am on vacation and the day to day obligation of posting a specific pose picture has started to feel less like fun and more like hassel. And lastly- and I'm just gonna put it out there- the postures have gotten harder and putting the images of my effort in the direction of a pose versus the final expression of a pose, feels raw and exposed and not so comfortable.
So, why in the hell did I decide to do this challenge to begin with?
Well, let's see..... Back in the end of June I was continuing to ride some pretty significant waves of grief and some ups and downs whose size I was feeling an increased concern about. I could feel the darkness all around the edges creeping in bit by bit every day. I was beginning to feel very quiet and increasingly isolated. I also knew that I was going to be headed on vacation for most of July and that I wouldn't be teaching as much. Teaching has often been a potent way in which I stay both anchored in my own practice as well as connected to the world beyond my immediate sphere. Loosing touch with these pieces that hold me accountable to myself during a time when I am feeling fragile and alone is a recipe for disaster. I know from experience.
Last summer we came to Maine less than 2 weeks following my abortion. I was on a treacherous roller coaster of despair and despondency. I have vivid memories of laying in the sun on the deck of the Islesford house (with one of the most beautiful views in the world) with my eyes squeezed shut willing myself to disappear. There have been so many parallels between this year and last and I was unwilling to go down that particular road again. I needed a plan of action that wouldn't invlove me slipping into that dark and lonely hole. (Which, it is so important for me to take note here, the likelihood of me slipping is so much less than it once was due in so many ways to the good hard work that I spent doing all this last year to take better care of me... and yes, this is part of that too.)
So, I put it out there and jumped in. Instagram Yoga Challenge. And as much as I am sick of it now, it has fulfilled for me what I needed it to, plus, a few unforseen and added bonuses.
Yes, I have stayed engaged in my practice. No, I have not disappeared. I have pushed up against a lot of my judgements and criticisms both of myself and of others. I have a whole list of things that I tell myself I should or should not do because of the stories that I have made regarding the opinions of colleagues, teachers and friends. In the past, I have often let my fear of these stories effect my choices. I am working on that. This has helped.
But the best thing to come out of my participation in an IG yoga challenge has been the way in which Maple and I have co-created these images together. It has been an absolute collaboration, and that has been so fun. It is enjoyable for me to watch her visual perspective play out in the pictures that we have made. And almost every single one posted has been her choice, in terms of setting, angle and even filter. You can check out all of our images on Instagram @treeduckmama. Plus, I could absolutely use some extra cheer and support as I attempt to make it through!