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Day 28: Getting Good At Yoga

I asked my class last night what they had learned, if anything, from the Yoga Challenge.

I got blank stares.

“Are you getting any better at yoga?” I asked

Then they started pointing to defined biceps, and saying how they could finally do a Chaturanga, and hold plank without their arms quivering like jello.

The other day someone said they got their head to their knee for the first time in seated forward fold.  Another person said that they touched their nose to the floor in Upavista Konasana (wide-angle seated forward fold.)

I was so happy for them!  I know what it feels like to make progress in a posture, to finally be able to go up in Crow, or to extend the leg out fully in Padagustasana. It’s a trip!  You want to show people.  You want to say: “Look!  Watch me cross my ankles behind my head and bind behind my back!”(Yoga Nidrasana)

But the funny thing is, as soon as you are able to do a difficult posture, you realize:

1.  There are hundreds of difficult postures yet to master,

and

2.  Mastering the postures isn’t the point.

True enlightenment in yoga comes the day you realize that it’s okay to suck at yoga; that it doesn’t matter if you can touch your head to your knee or bring your sternum to the floor.

True enlightenment comes the day you get up from your mat and realize that nobody is going to put your picture on the cover of Yoga Journal or even on their refrigerator door, and that’s fine ‘n dandy!

True enlightenment comes the day you realize (cliche alert!) that it’s all about the journey, and that there really is no destination.

So I’m happy that my students’ arms are getting cut, that they can finally hold Navasana without breaking into tears, but I am waiting for the day when one of them comes in boasting a tee that proudly announces:

I SUCK AT YOGA.

(and then says in smaller letters, “And I’ve had a daily practice for 10 years!”)

That’s the teacher I want to study with!

Here’s my favorite sutra from Patanjali:

“That practice is truly grounded when it is done incessantly, with reverence, for a long time.”

So practice on, Yogarians!  Practice on!

Author:

I’m a small town yoga teacher who says motherfucker a lot. I hate anything woo. I’m into neuroscience. And facts. I’ll lead the chanting of “om” sometimes, but it makes me feel awkward. I want to access flow states. As far as yoga helps me do that, I’m into it. Dopamine is my fave neurotransmitter. Don’t tell anyone I told you this.

4 thoughts on “Day 28: Getting Good At Yoga

  1. Oh, yes, I’ve been sucking at yoga all month despite my dedication. Glad to hear it’s permissible!

    Day 28 (straight & twisted) brought for me: 15 min. in the morn, facing East: aaaahhhhh; 30 min. in the eve, facing the vvvvery orange full moon rising in the easterly-toward-southerly sky: oooommmmmm & HOOOOOWWWWWL!!!

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  2. Oh, Good! I have been sucking at Yoga too! But keeping on! I have never been so dedicated to something for myself as I have with my practice! Tomarrow I will join the “challengers” at the studio celebrating my 160th day without a miss! I love the buzz in the air at the studio! Any chance to celebrate Ourselves, our Practice and our Teacher is a great day!

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  3. You guys are so funny. Cindy L., 160 days is just 22 days from six months straight! Wow. I bow down next to Kathleen. Cindy M., yesterday was a full moon? No wonder!! Wouldn’t I like to see us all yoga-ing on a warm summer’s evening under the full moon. Look out, world, here comes our light!

    {Apologies ahead of time. This is going to be a long post. Not that you’d expect anything less 😉 }

    I’ve definitely noticed a change in my yoga, particularly in the poses that challenged me most intensely — 3-legged dog, pigeon, frog, bridge, camel (finally got it last night. Yay!). I look like a protege of Rodney Yee, nor do I want to. But I *like* the poses now. I absolutely struggle (and I’m sure I look silly), but I have gotten to the point where I’m starting to soften what needs to soften, and activate what needs to be activated, and I can still breathe (barely). This is especially true with pigeon. I guess I’ve always “liked” pigeon, but it wasn’t until I decided to make it my “must do everyday” pose that I started to see a shift. Finally, after the 7th or so day, I softened. I walked out my back toes just a hair. I breathed. I found the bandhas. Yeah, baby.

    More importantly, though, is how my yoga has changed me on the inside. I’m not taking things as personally. (This is huge; I was born under a Cancer sun and moon, and sensitivity is my specialty.) I’m setting boundaries and not taking on everyone else’s s&*t. I’m figuring out what the heck I want in this life. I’m more intuitive. And my heart is opening thanks to all those hip-openers and back bends.

    When I finally got to my yoga last night (day 28, whoo hoo), I was thinking about why all of those changes have been taking place, wondering how yoga makes that possible. It came to me during happy baby. I was imagining Brynne in her happy happy baby (thank you, Brynne).

    When we do yoga, we’re opening our chakras. We’re letting in the light to those very special centers of our being. Happy baby opens our first chakra; mountain pose opens many, but especially our crown (7) and third eye (6). Back bends are particularly important for our hearts and emotions. It’s impossible to do a back bend while closing off your heart — you have to be open.

    Kath, can you imagine facilitating a workshop called “Chakra yoga”? 15 minutes of gentle centering, then some writing about areas in one’s life where one struggles (this doesn’t have to be shared, can just be for self-exploration). Next comes a workshop on the chakras and their meaning (including a little centering to “feel” each one), then 60-75 minutes of yoga, exploring which chakras one feels opening during each pose, followed by a long savasana… I get tingly just thinking about it.

    Lastly, because I’m sure everyone is wondering how much coffee I’ve had this morning (for the record, none, just yoga, green tea, and the energy that comes with life’s uncertainties), I was wishing in my practice last night that there was a “moon salutation,” because it didn’t feel right to be doing suns at 10pm. I just googled it — there are a couple different ones, but I really like the one that was put together at Kripalu. (check out http://www.lauracornell.com/moon.html) Kath, we’ll have to do this under the full moon. 🙂 (At Fred’s, maybe? Think he’d go for that?)

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