Lucy corrected me this past weekend when, in the midst of our first yoga session, I told her I wasn’t any good at yoga.
“You’re not good at yoga yet,” she said. Then she folded over like a collapsing flip phone.
“I’m worse than you, dad,” Finn whispered from the mat next to me. “You’re doing great!”
I was not doing great. Finn was just saying that because he is naturally encouraging.
I had wanted to try yoga for a while. Like everything else, getting started on new things like this tends to be the hardest part. Which is why I made the kids do it with me.
So there we were this past weekend, after months of broken self-promises, the kids and me on three mats next to each other, with the Beachbody Three Week Yoga Thingy ™ on the screen, and a handsome yoga instructor and his two companions talking to us from a room so blindingly white that it looked like a scene from a 1950’s science fiction movie. (Beep beep boop!)
“Okay,” Yoga Man said. “We’re going to move on to downward dog. Now, I want you to just forget everything you know about downward dog.”
“Way ahead of you,” I told him.
I don’t actually want to do yoga. But this is the eternal, internal fight I have: What I know is good for me vs. whether or not I am actually willing to do it.
I know that yoga is super healthy. I get muscle injuries from time to time, and I know yoga can probably help mitigate that. I know yoga will make me more flexible and can probably decrease any pain I may feel. I know it is good for the body as one gets older. Which, apparently, I am.
Not to mention, everyone loves yoga. (Or rather, everyone who loves yoga loves yoga.) There are literally no downsides to yoga.
So why am I not doing yoga? Probably for the same reason I’m not cutting down on gluten or creating a gratitude jar: I need a quicker return on my investment.
This Beachbody Yoga program, for example, is a three-week program. Three weeks. You know how long that is?? A genie could come out of a bottle and tell me that if I cut out carbs for three weeks then ALL MY DREAMS WILL COME TRUE and I’d still have no chance. I’m not even sure I’d be able to wait for the oven to preheat before I ripped open the frozen parmesan-garlic bread with my teeth and pounded the entire icy loaf down my throat like a sword swallower, slapping the caboose with an open palm like somebody trying to get the last of the ketchup out of a glass bottle.
I have very little chance of success when I don’t see immediate results. I don’t do well with willpower, or accountability partners, or apps that encourage you by making pinging noises when they give you a badge that, frankly, you can’t really use.
Here is where I HAVE found success: My wife.
I have said this before in this blog: I have an audience of One. And that One is a wonderful encourager.
Liz told me, maybe three years ago, that it made her feel loved when I cooked dinner for her. I am the opposite of a foodie. If I could take a daily food pill I would do it. But when Liz told me that, I started cooking that very evening.
My early results were not great. If I was alone, I would have quit. But Liz was touched by the fact that I had tried. And ever since then, I have done the cooking in the house. And still, every night, without fail, she tells me how much she loved the meal I made (even if it wasn’t that great) and how it made her feel cherished by her husband. She does that because she knows me really well and because she knows that I thrive on encouragement from her.
She tells me over and over that she loves my writing, so I keep on writing.
She tells me that I make her laugh, so I try to be funny every ten to fifteen seconds.
She tells me she loves it when I make her coffee in the morning, so I’ve made her coffee every morning for years now.
And every single time she acts as if I’ve just bought her a dozen long-stemmed roses.
And here’s the kicker: Lizzie works an intense job as a lawyer for McKinsey & Co., the prestigious consulting firm. She organizes the kids’ lives, from activities to school to everything. She manages our home. She tracks and calculates our finances on a daily basis. And a million other things.
But still – still! – she makes me feel like I’m producing all the wins in the family. She does that because she has the Great Gift of Encouragement. (Remember Finn encouraging me on the yoga mat? Guess which parent models that for him?)
Lizzie hasn’t asked me to do yoga. If she did I would have been doing it every morning and I would be typing this blog balanced on my tailbone with my legs wrapped around my waist like a belt.
Still. Maybe I’ll give it another try. Take the pressure off Lizzie for needing to encourage me in everything in my life. Also, it’s supposed to be good for you and whatever.
Anyway, speaking of yoga, here are…
The Top Five Basic Yoga Moves I Learned in Session One….
- Child’s pose.
LOVE child’s pose! I knocked child’s pose out of the park. It felt actually relaxing! And Finn was like “You’re doing really well dad!” and Lucy, a different kind of encourager, peeked over and told me that it was actually supposed to be relaxing only gets harder from here and that child’s pose is called child’s pose for a reason but stick with it, dad.
- Downward-facing dog.
The instructor spent a good chunk of time telling us how to position our hands, and so I really focused on that part. Then when it was time to stick our butt in the air and the kids both sprung up like golf umbrellas on a hair trigger while I was still giggling that he had said ‘butt.’
- Tree pose.
This is one of those poses where you balance on one leg and the helpful yoga instructor tells you “Find that balance, like a flamingo…” which is about as unhelpful as a comment can be. It’s like a swimming instructor throwing me off the back of a Carnival Cruise and shouting down at me to hold my breath like a sperm whale.
- Pigeon pose.
I got off to a great start with this one, getting down on my mat. Then I had to fold a leg under me, pointing perpendicular to my body. Last time I saw that pose was on my He-Man action figure when I was whirling it around by the ankle.
Warrior pose is actually pretty cool. If I could just master that pose I think I’d be doing yoga all the time. It’s sort of half-intimidating, half-graceful, half-Odell Beckham Jr. celebrating a first down. It’s also called Warrior Pose, which is the best.
Alright. Back to sitting down and carpel tunnel syndrome.