When I first started coming to Bikram yoga, I was seventeen or eighteen. I had a teacher who used to really get on me for sitting out postures, letting myself come out early, not pushing to my full potential. It seemed like she was always telling me to "cut the drama". "Jessica! No drama!" She would shout to me in the middle of class.
For the longest time I had NO idea what she meant. I didn't think I was being dramatic at all, I just HURT, I COULDN'T BREATHE, I was going to DIE if I didn't come out of the posture now or if I tried to push myself through this one, my stomach was killing me, I was going to puke, if she had any idea how I felt right now, she wouldn't ask me to keep going.
It took me YEARS to realize that all of that? That WAS the drama. Me telling myself I couldn't do it. Me sighing deeply as I collapsed out of a posture that was "just too hard". Me contorting my face into expressions of pain and agony rather than just letting go, letting the moment be whatever it was. Me forcibly sitting my fat ass down on the mat and refusing to perform the next several postures. Me hunched over, kneeling and pressing my weight into my hands while I heaved and sucked breath in, trying to make the dizziness stop and the nausea stop...
I was creating my own drama. I was so sucked into my own story that I was letting me convince myself I couldn't do it, and that was enough of an excuse to quit. But since I never realized that's what I was doing, I wasn't able to stop. Because I never identified that as "drama". I have no idea, now, how I missed it, it's so OBVIOUS now.
Today was the first day when I really, really felt my mind and body wanting to slip into some of the old drama. There were a few moments in class when I let a pathetic gasp slip out of my mouth and make itself audible. There were a few postures when I lost my determination and let the "I can't do it anymore" concept topple me over, come out early. The whole entire class, I was battling that old fear, that "you're not good enough", but mostly, the word "CAN'T".
I've been teaching hoops for over a year and a half now. One thing I really get on students for is use of the word "can't". Tell yourself you can't do something? Well, of COURSE you can't. You won't let yourself. You've convinced yourself it's impossible and so you won't even try, because you're expecting to fail. No expectations. Tell yourself you can and you WILL. Maybe not today, but a lot sooner than if you let yourself believe that you can't.
So why is that awful word creeping into my yoga practice? Because I have been telling myself for years that I can't. I've been letting that word rule me in the room, because I really, honestly, feel that I can't. Not every class, but that's because every class is different. That doesn't mean, however, that "can't" is okay some days and not others. "Can't" is never okay.
So my mind was a warzone, screaming back and forth at itself, "I CAN'T!!" "Yes, you CAN! You can, and you're worth it!" "But it's HARD! I just want to stop! I always struggle with this posture." "No! Reverse that thought! You NEVER struggle with this posture. This posture is easy and light. YOU CAN DO IT!" "But I'm going to DIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIEEE!!!" "CUT THE DRAMA!!"
The truth is, you're not going to die if you tough out the posture. You're never going to die. That's a little...over dramatic? So stop telling yourself you're going to die if you do it and just friggen' do it. Did you die? No. And you know what they say about that which does not kill us.