Breaking a Sweat

This, like most of my other posts, is more of a journal entry and less of an announcement. Feel free to skip it (as always).

I'm not nearly so self-centered as to require that people understand me. However, when people misunderstand me, and that misunderstanding leads to negativity, or worse, animosity, I feel there is a problem. Well, a series of problems, actually, not the least of which is: I don't know what to do about it.

So I'm writing this here because I have to get this stuff out - to purge the system, I guess. I just can't think of another solution that would be more productive.

I think my yoga teacher doesn't like me. That's fine. I like her well enough. We'd never be best friends or anything, but I think she's an interesting person and a good yoga teacher, and really, that's one more quality than she needs to have for me to be pleased with our relationship. The trouble is, her not liking me has started to manifest itself in passive-aggressive statements directed at me during yoga class. This has the effect of being totally humiliating, and completely derailing my mental practice. The trouble is, actually, the troubles are: 1) I think she's made some mistaken assumptions about my personality/emotional maturity/motivation, and 2) I'm not certain she's aware that she's being passive-aggressive. Allow me to elaborate. (Ha! As if you had a choice!)

Issue 1: I ask a lot of questions. That's not a quality I exhibit only in yoga - I ask a lot of questions, all the time, of everyone, always. I ask questions because I'm naturally curious, and I have a seemingly insatiable hunger for knowledge. I ask for the warmth of knowing. I've also learned through the years that I'm a bit quirky, and I'm frequently not on the same page as everyone else. In fact, I'm lucky if I'm in the same book.... So I also ask to seek affirmation that I'm interpreting things correctly, a reality check, of sorts. In yoga, I ask questions about positions because I could injure myself if I'm doing something incorrectly, and to gain a deeper understanding of the pose and what it should feel like, so I can adjust myself if necessary. I get the distinct impression that my yoga teacher thinks I ask questions for attention, or as a substitute for listening to my body. Clearly, this is not the case.

Issue 2: This leads back into issue 1, but my body is just built to do yoga. My long, lean limbs and limber physique make it easy for me to get into advanced poses - even if once I'm there, I find out that I'm not really ready for them! I'm eager to push myself, but I'm always trying to find that point where strength and flexibility are in balance and a pose is challenging but within today's capabilities. Maybe it's because I'm usually about 20 years younger than the other people in my classes, but I think this comes off as "showy" to my yoga teacher. Not that it should - I can name at least 3 older (than me) women I practice with occassionally who are much stronger, more flexible and more advanced! I can only hope my poses will look like theirs when I'm 45!

Issue 3: My yoga teacher is big on relaxation at the end of a session, and rightly so - it's a vital part of yoga practice. I always enjoyed doing relaxation with my yoga teachers at UNT. However, since I started taking this yoga class in the mornings, I've really struggled with the discipline of relaxation. It took me several weeks (and more than a few disdainful observations) to discover the root of my problem with morning relaxations. It's a two-fold problem:

In the mornings (right before yoga), I take Dexedrine, a stimulant medication, to control my ADHD. It takes about 45 minutes to kick in, and then I can be my normal, rational, fully-thinking self for the rest of the day. It also raises my resting heart rate and causes me to breathe slightly faster than I would without it. Normally, this change is imperceptible. However, during relaxation, I use meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, and breathing techniques to slow down my system (slowing breathing, heart rate, and thoughts, and finding stillness). When I'm on my medication, my heart rate will only go so low, and that totally-rested-and-relaxed speed still feels too fast, because my body knows that something external is elevating my resting heart rate. This situation produces a lot of anxiety, because of my arrhythmia.

After I have a little "heart hiccup", my body dumps about a gallon of adrenaline into my bloodstream and everything goes on Red Alert, (because when your heart does something weird, your body freaks out.) This panicked, overdrive feeling can last for hours and leave me exhausted, emotionally drained, and with low blood sugar. So, to shorten these episodes and regain some mental control, I use relaxation techniques I learned in yoga to slow my heart rate and signal to my body that everything is okay. I've been doing this for years, but it's scary every time. But when I'm doing relaxation in the mornings at yoga class, and my medication has just kicked in, I experience the terrifying sensation of not being able to lower my heart rate. Even though I'm perfectly safe, my reptile brain associates this feeling with the arrhythmia sensation and becomes very distressed. So I don't really like to linger in morning relaxation. I've been working on becoming more comfortable with it now that I understand what's happening, but I think it will take a while to overcome visceral fear. At any rate, my teacher is unaware of all this and seems to just think that I'm uncomfortable turning inward and can't handle stillness.

So, I think it's a combination of all these things that's caused the misunderstanding, and I'm probably as much to blame as she is, for not explaning it.

But then again, is it any of her business? I shouldn't have to bare my soul to get a good workout, and it's not like everyone else is sharing any emotional breakthroughs. In my opinion, if she has concerns about my physical practice (improper alignment or something), she can and should voice them constructively. But the mental and emotional side of my practice is personal, and any opinions she has about me in that regard she should keep to herself. And it's not even like she's trying to be my therapist - some of her comments are just plain mean! I get so irritated with myself for letting it bother me, but the truth is, it totally throws a wrench in my works and creates stress where there should be none.

I do feel a bit better having typed it all out though. I guess screaming into the void against a percieved injustice still feels like fighting back.