by Blakeney Schick
This isn’t a yoga fairy tale. My practice will not ride in on a white horse during the story’s third act to teach me a valuable lesson. This also isn’t a yoga nightmare. There won’t be a point where I freak out and burn my bridges. Instead, my practice will be there, in the background, the whole time. What this is is the story of an ordinary bad day.
I woke up one morning and everything was fairly normal. But as the day went on, everything annoyed me. There was the 20-minute conversation about vermin that took place between 3 older women who surrounded me on the subway as I tried — and failed — to make a dent in my book club book. (Everyone agreed that squirrels are the worst.) There was the person who walked very slowly and totally obliviously right in front of me as I made my way from the subway station to the office. At some point before I got to work I noticed just how impatient I was being.
Once I was at my desk, things that weren’t that bad annoyed me and the things that were got under my skin and stayed there. I distracted myself by trying to get through my to-do list. I tried not to take out my mood on anyone else. By noon, it was clear that noticing how irritable I was didn’t necessarily mean that my mood would improve.
When I got to Mala that evening, I didn’t even feel like practicing. But getting on the mat became the highlight of my day because I got to switch gears and see my friends. Honestly, getting a drink at the bar with those same friends might have had the same effect.
If this story seems unremarkable — it’s not even funny — that’s because it is. There was nothing odd or terrible about my day. But, as I said earlier, my practice was there the whole time, standing in the background like an unpaid extra on a movie set. It allowed me to see my irritability and impatience for what they were. It helped me avoid judging myself harshly for feeling that way. And my practice helped me not react to my co-workers and the slow walkers of the world. And, honestly, that was the most I could reasonably ask that day.
We tend to tell the fairy tales — they can be inspiring. But we don’t usually live in fairy tales. Luckily, we don’t tend to live in nightmares either, but they can give us perspective. I wanted to tell you this story, though, because you might have had a not-so-great-but-not-terrible day recently, too. And even if you didn’t see it, your practice was probably there — standing in the background as an extra, helping to fill out the scene, and standing by for its next walk-on role.
Blakeney Schick is a public radio producer who follows events and elections. She started going to yoga 8 years ago in the hopes that it would help her stand up straighter. It has. But she’s stayed on the mat because yoga’s also made her stronger in every possible way. Blakeney found her way to Mala in late 2007, and finished Mala’s 200-hour teacher training in 2012. She is also a regular contributor to the Mala Yoga blog.