“You have powers you never dreamed of. You can do things you never thought you could do. There are no limitations in what you can do except the limitations of your own mind.” ~~ Darwin Kingsley
Have you ever been in a yoga class, where it seemed like everyone but you could do every single pose the instructor asked you to do? Lotus Pose, King Pigeon Pose, Wheel, Side Crow…you name it, and everyone but you seemed to be able to float seamlessly in and out of every single one of them?
It happens to me ALL the time. Particularly with deep hip openers like Lotus…the bony structure that makes up my hips is simply not built for poses like that. Years ago, I forced myself to achieve Lotus because everyone else in the room seemed to be able to do it just fine. I was working on trying to tuck my left foot into my right hip crease. The moment I reached my typical stopping point, I kept pushing it, willing myself to make it there this one time. BIG MISTAKE! I immediately felt a sharp, popping sensation in my left knee, so I stopped and got out of it. But it was too late. The damage was done. And here I am over 6 years later and I STILL have issues with my left knee as a result.
The point of my story is that I wanted to be like everyone else and do what they were doing. I was unwilling to admit that I had a limitation they didn’t have. What I should have done instead is to look for the opportunity. If I had really taken the time to look within, the goal of what I was trying to achieve was to release stress and tension from my hips, right? If I had been able to step outside of my ego, I would have realized that there were a plethora of other poses that could help me achieve the same goal…poses that my body could do safely, and which would allow me to not just open my hips, but to relax and enjoy the stretch.
Do you have particular poses in your practice that do this to you? Poses that you know, deep down, are not meant for you but you go ahead and try them anyway? If so, how does it make you feel? If you’re like me, it probably leaves you feeling more stressed than you were before you got on your mat in the first place.
I challenge you to opt instead for a “ready for new beginnings” attitude. Next time you’re in class (hopefully one of mine, of course), pay attention to your mindset as you’re asked to move into the more advanced and challenging poses. If you find you’re trying to move into a variation just because everyone else is, then maybe it’s not the right variation for you on that day. Make sure you’re looking for the opportunities each pose presents to you, for every pose you do offers opportunities if you look for them. Don’t let your mind limit your ability to explore new variations of a pose if that’s what your body is telling you it needs.
Have fun with your yoga practice this week. After all, it’s YOUR practice, YOUR journey, so you have to make it what it needs to be for YOU. No one else can do that for you. And when you come across tough poses, look for the opportunities being presented. When you can practice this on your mat, you’ll find that it quickly moves with you into your life off the mat.
I’d love to know what you find as you explore your practice in this way, so feel free to comment!