You’re Stronger Than You Think
This week has been transformational, both physically and mentally.
We all have that inner voice that tells us lies in an attempt to keep us playing small, to keep us safe. In some situations, that voice can be a good thing, but in others it really holds us back and keeps us trapped in fear. I have been battling that voice this week, it’s challenging and empowering all at once.
Let’s go back to last Saturday, I was in yoga teacher training and we were talking about wheel pose. If you’re not familiar, wheel is a back bend where your hands and feet are planted on the ground and you press up into your hands to bend your back and make the shape of a rainbow. I know I have strength and flexibility in my back and am capable of certain backbends but I’m afraid of this one because it’s also an inversion. So on Saturday, we’re talking about wheel and then we are given an opportunity to practice it in a safe environment. I figured, if I’m going to try it, this is probably the best opportunity, so when the instructor looked and me and said “come over here, give it a try”, I agreed. I went over to the mat, laid down, put my hands on the blocks that we were using as a modification, and was told to press into my hands and come onto the top of my head. I did it, but it wasn’t comfortable, I didn’t feel like I was strong enough in my upper body to press up high enough to take the pressure off of my head and neck. I came down and the teacher asked me how I felt, I almost couldn’t speak, I was overcome by a random flood of emotion and felt like I was going to burst into tears for no reason. I got the words out and told her how it felt, I tried one more time with more support and was able to lift up higher to get my head off the ground. When I was done, I still felt like I was going to cry for the next five minutes. It was a strange reaction; I couldn’t explain it.
I came home that night and told Taylor what happened and he basically told me that I need to have more faith in what my body is capable of. He was so right! I have taken that thought process into my week and it has been amazing!
On Sunday we had a class on the chakra system, which I absolutely loved! I’m not going to explain it right now but I’ll probably write another post about it some time! All I want to say right now is that at one point in the class we were encouraged to try a partner pose in which one person is in downward dog and the other person is also in downward dog but with their feet on the first person’s tailbone, it looks like this:
When we were told what to do, my first reaction was “I’ll do the regular down dog but no way am I doing the inversion part”. So that’s exactly what happened, I did the regular down dog part first and my partner did the inversion on me. Then I was encouraged to try it the opposite way around, I was nervous but I remembered what Taylor said and I worked up the courage. I did it and it really wasn’t as scary as I thought, it was actually fun! I came home and told Taylor that I did it and that I wanted to try it again!
Fast forward to this morning (it’s Thursday, May 9th as I’m writing this), I went to the 7am vinyasa flow class in which we focused on preparing for and practicing crow and tripod headstand. Crow is one pose that I’ve been working on for about 5 years now. I’ve improved over those years but very marginally. I’ve gotten to the point where I can lift both feet off the floor for half a second and then put them back down immediately. At the beginning of the class, the teacher prefaced with “today we are going to play with the idea of taking a risk and learning to soar”, and that’s exactly what happened! After 5 years of practicing this pose, having fallen flat on my face once and being afraid to keep trying, I finally held crow for a full breath! Now let me just say that yoga is not all about the poses, I’m going to write another post about that shortly, but it does feel good when you work up the strength and confidence to achieve something you’ve been working towards for a long time.
Tonight, I was back at the studio for a teacher training class in which we looked at inversions, specifically headstand. As I mentioned before, I’m afraid of all things upside down, especially after that crazy flood of emotions I had last weekend. The teacher brought in a headstand bench that essentially looks like an ottoman made out of wood with a U-shaped cushion on one half of it. It’s made so that you hold onto the flat wooden part and have your head in the U and your shoulders resting on the cushion. It basically takes all of the pressure of a headstand out of the head and neck and puts it into the shoulders and arms so you can focus on the core strength and getting used to the feeling of being upside down. Again, I was afraid to try it, but after most people in the class took their turn one by one, the teacher looked at me and I figured I better give it a shot. I told the teacher that I wasn’t going to lift my toes off the floor, I would essentially work on a pike pose, but once I got into position, it was a lot easier than I expected to lift my feet. I brought my knees into my chest and that was my inversion. I didn’t try lengthening my legs all the way up, but once I was done, I felt like I could try that next time!
If you’ve made it this far, thanks for sticking it out and reading my yoga teacher training journal 😉
Now I’ll get to the moral of the story:
You are stronger than you think. You are capable of more than you know.
This is the lesson I was reminded of this week, and yes, it came through the physical practice of yoga, but it resonates so much deeper than that. We all have this voice that holds us back, but sometimes we need to overcome that voice and change the story to one of “I can”. Whether that’s “I can do a headstand” or “I can pass this test” or “I can speak my truth” or “I can have that tough conversation”. Whatever it is for you, know that YOU CAN.
You can do whatever you set your mind to do, sometimes your mindset really is the only thing holding you back from pursuing your dreams. But the good news is, you are in control and you have the ability to change your mindset. Believe in yourself and you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish. I’ll leave you with this quote:
“What if I fall? Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?” – Erin Hanson