Thursday, June 10, 2010

Strawberries and Shaktis

Today in class, I thought of strawberries. It's summer, and I've been eateing them, standing over the sink and nibbling them up to their little green tops.

As I set up for class this morning, I caught a look at myself and my new, strawberry-colored Shakti outfit. Me, a yogi, wearing Shaktis? Not so unusual, you seasoned Bikramites might say. Let me explain. It's actually my first pair. I've been practicing Bikram yoga for a year now, and it took me three months to rock the sports bra in class. I tend to be a fairly conservative dresser, however, and I just haven't felt comfortable enough to wear Shaktis.

However, I was in need of a new bathing suit, and Shaktis? It says right on the label that they're great for surfing. Clearly, they're cute and well-made, so why not skip the hassle of shopping around and just get what will work?  I bought the strawberry-red pair, and in my dresser it sat for a week. Today, though, I wore it to class. Just to see what all the fuss was about. Just 'cause I need to be in the know.

And... I can definitely see the appeal. They attract attention. My teacher applauded me for finally putting them on. My mat buddy said, "girl, you look great. You look so skinny in those things!" (Kinda mixed reactions about that comment ;-) I guess they are flattering. They do feel super-comfortable when practicing, and they stay put in the, uh, essential areas. But I quickly realized that I was more concerned with my appearance as I was practicing. Maybe it was just because it was a new outfit, but I kept looking at myself in the mirror to see... how I looked in the mirror. That's not really where I want my mind to be while I'm practicing, but that's right where the mind was, spinning off on the reflection of my body in the mirror.

Then, 'cause of the whole strawberry thing, my mind darted over to this little anecdote in this lovely book I'm reading called Everyday Zen, by Charlotte Joko Beck. In it, Joko recounts a classic Buddhist story about a man chased off a cliff by a tiger. As he clings to a branch, he looks at the tiger above, and sees another tiger below. He knows he's doomed. But he also sees a ripe strawberry within reach. So what does he do before plummeting to his death? He eats the strawberry. You can guess the ending of the tale.

What's the point? And how does that point relate to the silly outfit story? Well, the story is another reminder of the importance of being in the moment, regardless of how tempting the circumstances swirling around ourselves might be. As Joko asks, "Isn't every moment the last moment? There is no moment other than this."

So, uh... comparing looking at my legs in a new red outfit in a yoga class is nothing like being able to savor the last moment before certain death by tiger mauling. But it's one silly example of how distracted we can get, and one more example of how we should pay attention to the moment, even if it's not a juicy strawberry, and even if there aren't tigers at our backs. The moment deserves our attention.

I think I'll reserve the Shaktis for boogie-boarding and body surfing. At least for now :-)

*Please note that I am in no way dissing Shakti activewear. I am especially not dissing the wonderful wearers of Shaktis. In fact, I love my outfit. I may wear it around the house come summertime! If I were slightly less distractable, slightly less concerned about my appearance in public, and slightly more rich, I'd probably have four pairs and rock them in every class. They're great. I just have some hangups, is all, and I felt like blogging about 'em :-)


lz said...

This post is great :) very thorough perspective!

Yolk E said...

Lz!! So good to hear from you. I miss your posts :-)

Lady J said...

I completely agree about how the prettier or nicer my yoga costume is the more concerned I am about my appearance. I found myself planning what I was going to wear to a yoga clinic I am going to on Saturday.
I love the comparison to the man eating the strawberry!
Great post!

bikramyogachick said...

Hmmm. Your post totally relates to my post! I have tigers at my back and clearly I need to focus on the strawberry!
I don't have any shaktis, I'm too large, but I do have a top that is bright and low cut. I'm always more concerned about the girls making an appearance, or distracted by the bright color so I stopped wearing it for now! LOL. It reminds me of you being distracted by your pretty shakti shorts!

Yolk E said...

I think that theme is universal, M! in one way or another, we all need to focus on strawberries :-)

J--that is too funny but also totally relatable! I hope the clinic is helpful. Tell us all about it!

catherine said...

I know when I got my first dedicated yoga clothes, I felt funny and self-conscious (uh, well, more so) about how I looked. But after a while, I was just stoked on having some great, functional clothes for yoga. Give Shakti a chance. :)

P.S. If I ever visit, it'd be SO MUCH FUN to go bodysurfing. Where do you go? Le sigh, I miss it.

Yolk E said...

Oh yeah! Come and body surf (well, I'd boogie-board unless the conditions were right). But Come! You have a place to stay, too.

catherine said...

I figured out an analogy about the Bikram-specific booty shorts: You know how when you first get a haircut, you can't stop running your fingers through and keep marvelling at that abrupt ending? But then eventually it's just hair?

I think the Shakti outfit-wearing is like that. After a while, it's just hair. :P

Jen said...

This is a great post! When I wear my "good" yoga clothes, I find myself paying more attention to how I look rather than my practice. My plain ol' sports bra and capris are way less of a distraction. I got to say though, the muffin-top isn't so muffin-y with the proper bottoms. It's something about the fabric being cut on a bias I was told by a studio owner.

Yolk E said...

Jen: I hear you on the muffin to :-) I think that slimming quality is quite the allure of the Shaktis!