“You’re stronger than you think you are.” As Melissa guided us through our practice over the weekend, she repeated this phrase several times. There were a number of poses that were difficult over the weekend. I modified several as needed and gave up on a few. I’m not at the point of doing Crow or anything close to a headstand. I am still working towards backbends and a full wheel. In time.
My readings today challenged my thoughts about what is difficult, however, and what I can and cannot do. Judith Hanson Lasater’s A Year of Living Your Yoga challenged me to choose a pose that I find impossible, get on my mat, do it anyway – no whining. I chose Warrior 3, which I only held a few seconds but I did it. Truthfully, I was rather shocked. In the class I attended this evening, I did several poses that have been difficult for me and held a number the full time or close to the full time the teacher asked us to. I am becoming stronger in standing poses but other poses were not ones I had practiced for a while.
My reading in Rolf Gates’ book today discusses humility and the balance that we keep between playing small and not playing small. It is a choice While I can come up with every excuse under the sun about why I can’t do certain poses, and some are valid, I also play small and sell myself short sometimes by not trying because I am afraid I will fail. We need fear, but we also need to try and push out of our comfort zones. “Our postures become the embodiment of this exquisite balance between holding on and letting go, action and nonaction, ambition and restraint” (Gates, 33). I won’t do a pose that I am not ready for and might injure myself, but I need to push myself bit by bit into poses that I am working on and that I find difficult.
There are other aspects of teacher training that are difficult. Working through the philosophy and teachings of yoga, working with my body, being in a room full of amazing women with stories about their own challenges all bring things up. I was surprised over the weekend that memories of my mom were so strong after someone mentioned talking to her mother. My mother died in 1983 and while I think about her, the strong memories that could bring me to tears in the first few years are mainly gone. But there they were again. I finally realized that the memory involved a number of things – she died 32 years ago last week and her funeral was on March 15. I am once again doing something that she never would have imagined I would do. I’ve done that a lot in my adult life, largely lived without my mother. I’ve gone out and done the things I was afraid to do and have tried not to put things off until it was too late.
I will continue to choose difficult things that challenge me, physically, mentally and emotionally. Some will be more difficult than others and some will take me by surprise. Some things will just come without a choice but I know that I am strong enough to meet the challenges. It’s all good.