The Tragic Optimist


I’m actually getting close to reaching one of my goals, having gone to yoga today, for what was the second time this month.  I do love yoga, and feeling stretched, and balanced, and calm, and focused.  It’s one of the few times where I feel not just in control of my body, but fully in my body, one of the few times I really love my physical self.

But I have a hard time being serious in yoga.  Things just always seem to crack me up, whether it be the way the instructor phrases something, or the way I fall over when I’m trying to stand on one foot.  My first yoga instructor, who was awesome, would always talk us through relaxation at the end of class, and she always said the same thing, and every single time (for over 6 years), when she got to the point where she said to relax your forearms, a little voice in my head would say “but I have only two arms!”  And I’d have to stifle my giggles, mostly at just how corny a joke that was, and just how much it seemed to crack up my subconscious.  That same instructor would always get body parts mixed up when she led class, telling us to put our left elbow on our right calf, wait no, that’s your left hand, and on your right knee, I mean hip.  Which for some reason, is hilarious if you’re me and you’re really relaxed and stretched and in a yoga frame of mind.

Early on in yoga, I asked my body-part-confusing instructor about that final relaxation that we did, and if I did it at home, was there a way to make sure I didn’t just fall asleep.  She looked at me, considered my question, and then in a very kind, but serious way, suggested that perhaps I should try to get more sleep.  She was wise.

Other things I’ve learned throughout my yoga practice:

  • If you’re doing something that stretches you too much, or that hurts, maybe you should back off and do it a little less.
  • If you’re trying to balance, focus on something steady that doesn’t move.
  • Stop comparing yourself to others.  You’ll never look like, or get into some of those poses like those skinny-hipped bitc…er, those skinny-hipped fellow sharers of focused and relaxed energy.
  • Breathe.


  1. I would love to try yoga, but I would definitely need to be in a place in the room where I couldn’t see myself. I am afraid it would be too much to know exactly what I looked like!

  2. I also love yoga. Unfortunately I have had a wrist injury that has prevented me from doing it for a while now. It is a great, centering experience, and I found that back when I was working it was one of the few points in a day where my brain would slow down and just let me BE.

    The hardest thing for me is knowing what I used to be able to do with my body (I used to be one of those skinny-ahems), which is in direct conflict with my growing physical limitations – it makes going to yoga a self-esteem battle….

  3. I love yoga, but can’t do classes cause of the same thing! I would be laughing my butt off all class! So I do it at home with the WIi Fit, although I suck at that lately too!

  4. Kristin

    I’m just so glad yoga makes you laugh, unlike some people who just find it irritating. Not that I know anyone like that…

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