Awareness and the awkwardness of downward-facing dog

Usually about 10 minutes into my yoga class, I find myself muttering silently, “Why the hell am I doing this to myself?” as I stick my butt high into the air in downdog, teeter in Warrior III and pant at the exertion of vinyasa. I realize that it is hard to reverse the body’s decline after taking it granted for most of my life. Here I am on the far side of 50 and am following slavishly the orders of a teacher who is nearly 20 years my junior — so much for the benefits of finding a guru.

Fortunately, this mindset gets diluted in the effort to keep up with the flow. I catch my second wind, stop thinking about how I look to others, and dissolve into the moment of breath and intention. I am finally rewarded with cleansing and find out why I bother with yoga.

My all-important goal this year is awareness. I’ve gotten over the hump of learning most of the asanas. I may not be able to have perfect form — or I may be much better than I feared, as I learned with the jump-back in vinyasa. It is awareness that is going to let me see clearly where I am, where my obstacles lie and how I might climb them.