This summer, I signed up for a 6-week yoga series on inversions. It was an impromptu decision. I figured that after my weekend at Kripalu, it would be nice to keep my yoga practice going. Even though I pull out my mat at least a couple of times in a week, my practice has also gotten more gentle and restorative lately (my nice way of saying that I have become lazier!). Increasing my strength has definitely been a goal for me, and without a structured class setting, I knew that this would not be possible. So, without even meeting the teacher, I signed up for the series!
I liked the teacher when I met her at the first class. She was going to show us a very specific way of training for handstands. And even if I didn’t make it to handstands, I would at least have a solid foundation to work on! I was optimistic, especially after bringing more dance into my life lately.
Unfortunately, the foundation is all I am going to have, I’m afraid. I have done four classes so far, and it has been a humbling experience. I am by far the weakest student in the class, and I say that with a laugh! There are significantly older women than me who seem to be stronger.
But I’m learning so much as a teacher, by being a struggling learner! Here are some of the lessons/reminders I have had so far:
- When you tell your students to seek out what they struggle with and to practice, practice, practice, know that they may not know what they struggle with. You need to help them narrow down exactly what it is they are having trouble with, with compassion and kindness and help them arrive at a sustainable plan!
- Appreciate what is going well! Taking a few moments to say a silent thank you to my body for what it is doing well has been more important to me than observing all that it cannot do!
- The journey is more important than the goal! Yes, I was there to learn handstands, but if I continually focused only on that, I would be very disappointed and frustrated! But when I remember to enjoy the process of learning something new with my body, I can actually relax and go deeper and also have more fun!
- The idea of going upside down was used in yoga to get a different perspective. A reminder to keep being mindful of observing my mind and witnessing the effects of going upside down (even if with the help of a wall!). How do I feel afterwards?
- Savasana is important. After all the hard work, letting go is the sweetest part for me. But somehow that wasn’t part of this particular yoga class. I missed it sorely, and in my latest class this past weekend, I actually did let go of wheel pose in favor of having a longer wind-down. It was helpful to me, and it felt so sweet in my body. So, make time to celebrate the small and big achievements. Each one is a sweet moment that comes after a lot of hard work!
This yoga series feels like a professional development workshop of sorts! Probably because I have always found it immensely satisfying to be a student, and more so this time, being a struggling student in class. This weekend will be my last class of the series; I hope that I can remember these reminders and to have fun and not take myself so seriously! Maybe I will even make it upside down, who knows! 🙂
With gratitude, S.