Breaking Up With My Towel

staying focused in yoga class

Breaking Up With My Towel

By Becca Washer

My hand towel addiction was real. I never entered a class at 502PY without one. Even when we started charging $1 to rent them, I found such joy in asking Kelly to just put another one on my tab (a.k.a card on file). Any time a pose got hard or I wanted to take a break, my towel was there for me, waiting to wipe the sweat from my brow, or nose, or hands, or arms, or well you get where I’m going with this. I had convinced myself that there was no way I could practice without it. You’ll fall. You’ll be so sweaty. What will you do when you need to catch your breath? THE STRUGGLE.

One ambitious afternoon, I decided to see what happened if I didn’t take a towel into class. My water bottle and block looked so lonely at the top of my mat but I powered through that first slippery class like a toddler who has just had their blanket taken away would, with some scowling, regret, and at the end of the day feeling a little bit proud. I found myself looking for it while holding Warrior II as my legs fatigued, when Dancer was called, and before Bridge pose; all of my usual hesitation poses. It wasn’t until that first class without my towel that I realized just how much I used it to cheat myself in class.

Now let me be clear, this is not a post to encourage you to stop using a towel. For me, giving up that 8″x16″ white, cotton crutch was about giving up hesitation, giving up my distraction, and about growing my practice. I had an easily accessible excuse to cheat my way through class and I used it like it was a final exam where the teacher left us in the room with our books. For you, it might be fixing your hair, adjusting your clothes, or getting another drink of water that takes you out of your practice. Believe me, there are many reasons why a towel is helpful during class, and since giving up my hand towel I do occasionally have to use a full mat towel.

The biggest realization for me was how much this applied to my life. I am the queen of procrastination. Seriously, I have been thinking about writing this post for two months. I’m constantly working to catch myself when I start to create distractions when things get hard. There is so much possibility when you can create space by giving up what you must. For me, it was not bringing a towel into class. It opened up being able to hold poses longer, dropping hesitation, and being fully present to the sensations in my body instead of the sweat dripping down my arm. Whatever it is that keeps you from taking yourself to your edge whether in the studio or off the mat, it might be time for that security blanket towel to take a rest. It might be scary, and may take a lot of self-restraint, but you may surprise yourself when you remove hesitation in your life and go for it.

Take yourself to your edge this new year with 108 Sun Salutations in Yoga Mala for Africa.

 

photo by Aubrey Renee Photography

 

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