Crows, dolphins and (teddy)bears, oh my!

So I’ve been practicing yoga (semi-)faithfully for about three months now.

Absolutely loving savasana. Slowly getting better at downward dog and warrior. Working on ‘enjoying’ chair and pigeon pose. But up until today, quite terrified of inverted balance poses.

In part because I’m afraid of falling and looking silly but also, because of the little voice in my head that’s been telling me my entire life that I’m not an athlete. (Yes, I know, I lift weights, teach group fitness and indoor cycling and can out-push up my husband, but somehow, I haven’t an athletic bone in my body…)

Fortunately, I usually attend the busy classes, where I’m guessing, there’s just not enough room for ‘new-to-inversions’ yogis. (Imagine thirty-five people attempting headstands for the first time with mats a mere six inches a part; I know, funny, huh?). So although I’ve been challenged by the difficulty of holding my body in contorted positions for long intervals, I haven’t really pushed myself outside of my comfort zone.

Until today.

Maybe it was due to the small class size (there was lots of room between mats for ‘errors’). Or perhaps because a kind, supportive friend (thanks Tracey!) was on the mat next to mine. Possibly it was the instructor; a gentle, nurturing woman who notices and doesn’t hesitate to celebrate our small yogic victories.

Today’s class was full of inversions.

We began with crow pose.

This one, I’ve done before, but only fleetingly. Supporting your weight on hands only, knees balanced on the back of triceps. One leg slips off, try, again. Other leg slips off, try again. After the third try, I usually slip into child’s pose to regroup (and hide my embarrassment).

Today, I hugged my arms and inner thighs towards the midline of my body and managed to hold the pose for what felt like forever (but was probably only 15 seconds…).

We moved on to dolphin,

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not difficult on it’s own and really a pose used to transition into the more challenging teddy bear (from dolphin, balance your knees on the back of your triceps, much like crow). Miraculously, I was able to hold and maintain this one for an unbelievable (at least to me!) amount of time.

From teddy bear, the instructor challenged us to begin moving into headstand. Ever so slowly, start to bring the the knees together (holy core strength, batman!), pressing the inner thighs together, inch the feet towards the ceiling. I squeezed and inched, but only managed to make it about a quarter of the way to the top. The instructor cheered me on and I felt victorious as I lowered myself back down on the mat. Next time, half way, I promise!

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For the first time in a very long time, I attempted something scary. Nowhere near as often as Lululemon advocates (“Do one thing a day that terrifies you”), but a good start.

So often our fears of embarrassment and failure hold us back. That little voice in the back of our heads that tells us we can’t. “I can’t take a group fitness class, I’m too uncoordinated”, “Weight-lifting? I’d probably hurt myself”, “I’ve tried eating better, but I haven’t got the willpower”.

Tomorrow, apply some mental duct tape to your little voice’s head and do something that scares you (try ‘scares’ before you attempt ‘terrifies'; baby steps). I have no doubt that you’ll surprise yourself. I won’t be surprised; I knew you could do it!

What have you done lately that scares you?

Did you feel elated and powerful afterwards (even if you weren’t entirely successful)?

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  1. […] this post…]. Although I’ve been practicing yoga for over a year now, I have yet to become comfortable with inversions and am downright terrified of arm […]

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