Posted by: Mary | March 14, 2010

Breathe more, struggle less

Today’s yoga class was just a whole lot of fun. It was hot and sweaty as usual, but in some ways it was like being a little kid playing during recess. Yoga doesn’t have to be hard. Actually, it is what you make it. Some days it’s easy when I think it is going to be hard. The days I think will be easy are tough. And, the days I go in with no expectations usually are the best. That was class today.

I ate lunch late, a no-no in my book before yoga. I was so hungry I was ready to eat the entire fridge. So, of course by the time I got to class I felt a little too full. And, before I ate my huge lunch I was starting to feel shaky. I’d waited too long today to fuel my body. I was assuming that class might be a challenge, but I didn’t think much about it.

Our teacher, Mary, had us start in right away flipping our dog, we were working up a sweat going through our Sun Salutations A & B’s and then she had us work on crow pose, and then kicking up into handstand and back to more crow. (I am not able to get into handstand, but I keep trying. It’s a lot of sweaty work!)

Crow for me is one pose that brings up lots of anxiety. I have fallen a few times in the past, once on my face, another time on my shoulder (I had a nasty bruise) which made me fear I’d hurt myself again; and so I’m working through those fears and the anxiety I get in the pose. But, during today’s class (3-13-2010) I did get into the pose for a few seconds, it always feels a lot longer. And, then I went from crow into tripod headstand. Mary came over and helped me go all the way into headstand, which I’d never really done like this before. I was afraid, but I was able to get my legs up on my own and then she helped me stabilize myself. I felt so light. It was such a freeing moment.

When I started doing yoga regularly more than a year ago, I was an overweight emotional mess. I’d never even imagined I would one day get my legs up into a headstand, that I’d do a backbend, or that I’d be able to do any arm balancing pose, like crow. Now, I am getting better every time at doing all of these poses.

Often when students start coming to the studio they will say how they aren’t flexible or that they can’t do a pose. Sometimes I can see the frustration on a student’s face because they want to be able to do something. I know, I have those same frustrations, but the best thing to do is to breathe more and struggle less.

Then, there are also those students who come to class over and over but never decide to take the leap and try what seems impossible, like doing a backbend or a tripod headstand. I’m not sure what stops some people, but most of the time it is fear. Fear of falling, fear of the unknown, fear of what it would mean to succeed.

The only way to know whether we are capable of doing something is by trying and risking failure. “Better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all,” is how I look at it. You have to push to your edge to see how far you can go. And, it’s amazing what we are physically capable of doing.

Today was a day for playing, for having fun, going to the edge without any expectations and just seeing what might be possible. That’s what life is for, a joyful exploration. What will I find next on this journey? We will see!

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