Yoga and Facing Challenges

4 years ago I was a brand new yoga teacher.  CC was my most loyal student at our local studio(not her real name).  She was attentive, dedicated, and sweet.  One day, when I cued "crow pose" (an arm balance), she seemed uncharacteristically negative about the pose.  That day I promised her that we would keep trying and "one day we will get you in that pose".  I didn't have enough experience to make such a promise, and I didn't even know my own limitations at the time.  She seemed satisfied with my response, and we moved on.  Every time I cued crow over the next 4 years, CC would attempt the pose, fall, smile, and move on with her practice without missing a beat.  During a recent large class, and CC had her normal place in the back row.  I cued crow, offering a few modifications, and began to assist the newer students.  I heard a sound from the back row, and looked back to find CC grinning.  She mouthed "I did it".  How very cool to see her accomplish her goal.  Just like any other week, she quickly returned to her practice.

Anyone who has been practicing yoga long enough has had some of these experiences.  One of the things that I love about yoga, is it's lessons that apply to daily life.  I find it so inspirational to be able to watch students working on their practices, accomplishing goals, and doing so with love and grace.  How often are we reluctant to start something for fear of failure?  How often do we have a bad attitude when things don't go our way?  Here are a few ways to face your daily life like you do your yoga practice.

  1. Try things that scare you, or seem just out of reach.  You can do more than you know. 
  2. Face the task with a sense of humor.  Nobody is perfect at everything, so don't expect yourself to be perfect either.
  3. If you fail, move on graciously.  There's always next time.
  4. Keep with it.  Dedication is the key to reaching your goals.
  5. Believe in yourself.  Starting something with the idea that you can't do it is like praying for something that you don't want to happen.
  6. Encourage others.  There is strength in numbers, so seek out other people with the same interests and/or goals. 
Second ever successful Firefly Pose

Second ever successful Firefly Pose

Just yesterday I had my own accomplishment of the seemingly impossible task, the ellusive Firefly Pose.  This had seemed impossible for years, and I deemed it because of my "tight hamstrings".  Well, something snapped when I saw CC reach her goal.  I tried Firefly with a fresh attitude.  I saw possibilities rather than limitations, and you know what?  My Firefly got off the ground.  What is your Firefly?  What are you ready to tackle on or off the mat?

 

Namaste - Beth

Challenge day 4

Day 4 is L handstand against the wall. Sometimes this can feel even harder than kicking up to a wall. 

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Start out on your hands and knees with your feet against a wall. Push up to a shortened downdog, heels on the wall. Stay here or walk your feet up the wall and straighten your legs. Your hips will stack over your shoulders and wrists. Keep your core strong. It is normal to feel like your hips are beyond your hands when they aren't. 

In Defense of the Yoga Selfie

First of all, please allow me to defend my very un-yogic judgemental attitude that I'm about to admit to.  I have been opposed to the "yoga selfie" for quite a long time.  The seemingly borderline narcissitic act of taking photos of oneself in yoga poses, seemed to be the exact opposite of what my yoga practice represents.  To me, yoga was all about finding the steadiness of the mind, and what I learned about myself during the process.  

My recent experimentaion with selfies was strictly a tool to evaluate my own practice.  When combined with some inspiration from friends, my attitude has shifted.  Here are a few of the benefits to the yoga selfie.  

1. Selfies can help you check your alignment.  You can attempt to feel these actions all you want, but when attempting to refine alignment, a picture is worth a thousand words.  You don't even have to show them to anyone else if you don't want to.

Imagine my dismay when I, with 3 years of teaching and 15 years of practice experience, actually saw my alignment issues in downward facing dog.  OMG how have I managed to even function?  No wonder my teacher keeps telling to stop bringing my chest so close to my thighs. 

A quick selfie allowed me to realize that what felt like my chest hovering up way too high was actually a more properly aligned downward facing dog.  Who knew?  My teacher did, because she saw what I was doing, and with a quick yoga selfie, I could too.  Now I can see the difference between my perception and reality.

2. Selfies can help you share your practice with yogis near and far.  Let's face it, for those who actually post their own photos, it takes a lot of guts to put yourself out there.  Rather than being a way to brag, it can be a way to create community.  Sharing selfies can connect people from near and far who share techniques, tips, and progress with each other.

3. Selfies can inspire people to try new things.  Maybe the most interesting aspect has been wathcing the instagram account that belongs to my friends at mommycrossing.  I have seen how individual each person's practice really is.  Some poses that I find easy have been a challenge for them, and some that I find impossible, they post downright amazing photos.  Some of the photos include their mini yogis, which is really pretty great!  

4.  Selfies can teach you a few new techniques.  I've been inspired to try a new prop or assist for a few tricky poses.  I've googled poses that I've seen, and have found new ways of entering poses.  Trying new things helps me to build to my own practice, and helps me develop tips to pass on to my students. 

In conclusion, if you are inspired to take yoga selfies, they don't have to be perfect, after all, this is a practice.  Please, no judgement of yourself or others.  Selfies can help refine alignment, build community, inspire and teach.  Check out my instagram page here, and consider sharing your own photos.  Who knows who you'll inspire.

 

Namaste - Beth