Believe it or not, I used to be a pretty serious weight-lifting sort. You would not know it by looking at me now, but I used to lift very heavy things in tiny, short sets, not caring that involuntary grunts escaped me as I did. I worked with a trainer who accepted absolutely zero bullshit from me, and I sometimes had trouble operating the clutch in my car after my workouts.
I’d arrive at Gold’s gym when they opened at 5am in order to get in my training for the day. At home, I would place my workout gear outside the door of my bathroom, and when the alarm went off, I’d shuffle to the bathroom, climb into my clothes like a little fireman, grab my shake and water from the fridge, and leave. I ate accordingly: egg whites and oatmeal for breakfast, followed by five more very strategic meals throughout the day. I drank 3L of water each day, and went for weeks without consuming alcohol.
The me that did all this would go to the occasional yoga class and scoff at the babies in the class – the people who gathered foam blocks and bolsters to comfort themselves during the class and a blanket with which to keep warm in the final savasana.
My punishing ways continued for years. I somehow tied good exercise to struggle and pain and the rejection of any sort of help. At the same time, I was of the mind that my body was my enemy, something to be fixed so that it looked right and was the proper size (whatever that even is!).
That was then.
This week, I went into my usual candlelight yoga class and as I made my way to a spot by the front window, I took a long, peaceful breath and absorbed the calm atmosphere. I took a sip of my green tea before I unrolled my mat and then went to select two foam blocks, a foam cushion, and a bolster.
As I bent to pick up the foam blocks, the ones that help you to get into some of the yoga poses and give your body a break, I smiled, delighting in what I noticed: I wasn’t hesitating for a moment in gathering these items to make my practice easier. Instead of telling my body “YOU’RE ON YOUR OWN!” I was offering it compassion and comfort and support.
It was a really nice thing to notice in the candlelight.
And, as I always do, I am going to apply this to our relationships (I’ve already done this with nearly every client I’ve spoken to since that yoga class!):
Our habit, in relationship, is often to make it fend for itself. We expect it to roll along with us, supporting our every desire while staying resilient and supportive. We treat it like a body-builder living on egg whites and muscle grunts.
What if we instead felt compassion, and gave our relationships what they needed? What if we grabbed a damn foam block and let it be easier?
The ‘foam block’ gets to be whatever you define it to be. Maybe your relationship would really like some quiet evenings at home, rather than an over-scheduled whir of activity. Maybe it wants more affection, care and kindness. The foam blocks in my relationship are making sure we have lots of snuggling time, planning fun outings outside of the house, and finding things to celebrate as we work hard to realize our dreams. These are the things that nurture us both and allow us to get into some pretty strenuous “poses” with ease. (Stay with me and my yoga analogy.)