Yesterday I achieved my first headstand at yoga.
To be clear, I do not consider myself a devout yogi.
I have no discipline for an at-home practice…
At my best I make it to two classes a week, which can be sporadic…
I don’t start or finish my yoga with OM’s or green smoothies…
I do not even own any fancy designer-label yoga wear.
Comparing me to some of the serious yogi’s in my area, I am a complete and utter amateur; and I am okay with that.
I was first introduced to yoga over twenty years ago; in a dimly lit lounge room in a small Australian country town, where my vegetarianism and anti-rodeo protests had already put me on the fringes of that society. Add in some foreign-meditation-stretch class and I was permanently relegated to the weird and bizarre.
Over the decades I ‘dabbled’ in yoga.
Never quite finding my stride with it until I discovered a teacher whose style totally jived with me two years ago; in my local gym of all places.
I admit, one of the reasons I love her classes so much is she believes in the power of the restorative ‘child’s pose’ to integrate the good work we do in other poses….child’s pose allows you to curl up and rest and she throws them in all the time! God bless her!
So the past two years I have been far more consistent…the lure of those relaxing child poses making it easier for me to get to class than ever before.
Sometimes I was motivated for the intermediate class.
I embrace the yogic philosophy of ‘don’t push; listen to your body; go at your own pace’ wholeheartedly.
I have no qualms being the only one in the class modifying a move to what feels good to me.
I am not there to prove anything to anyone.
Those intermediate classes have been a training ground for me to honour my own pace…to be okay with where I am…and cultivate patience and compassion for my body and it’s journey on the yoga mat.
Admittedly, sometimes knowing we might attempt headstands in the intermediate class made me hesitate going.
Generally I am not a fan of slow progress;
I so much rather being brilliant at things from the start.
So headstands have been the one yoga move to put my patience to the test.
Just attempting the beginning move to strengthen my arm muscles was a serious challenge. I have even put my neck out trying.
But I did my best to stay with the modified move with non-judgement, resting frequently in child’s pose while gazing admirably out of the corner of my eye at the others in the class for their seemingly effortless mastery of this move that eluded me.
Over the last few months I noticed the modified move getting easier.
No further neck injuries to report.
Less frequent rests required.
My arms felt stronger.
So yesterday the thought crossed my mind whether I was ready to attempt the full move.
But as quickly as the thought came, I shuffled it out with a dismissive ‘I’m not ready yet’.
My teacher overheard my thoughts and asked me if I was going to give it a go.
I conceded and said I would with her help.
What followed was a comedic attempt at me trying to get my legs up, with no success. Thank goodness I am comfortable at laughing at myself (I mean, with myself).
I decided I’d had enough trying; clearly I was right – I wasn’t ready yet.
So I took to watching others.
I watched an older lady beside me successfully do it.
I read a lot about self-efficacy for my work with clients, which is the belief in our ability to succeed in specific situations or accomplish tasks.
Strong self-efficacy is the cornerstone to strong self-belief and confidence.
One way we can build it is to observe others similar to ourselves succeed and imitate their success.
It’s the whole attitude of “if she can do it; so can I”.
Something clicked inside me; I found renewed motivation to try again.
I made another attempt and to my delight and surprise, my legs were up in the air (still modified by the support of the wall…but hey, massive progress here people!).
I couldn’t contain my excitement, which cascaded out of my mouth in the very un-yogic-like manner of tiny whoops of cheer and amazement.
I felt ELATED.
Two years I have been going to her yoga classes.
Two years I have respected my teacher’s strength and grace and secretly hoped I might get there one day too.
Two years I have accepted the pace of my body’s slowly developing yogic abilities.
Yesterday I received the very important lesson that we can achieve things before we feel ready.
We can surprise ourselves by making an attempt even if we don’t fully believe we can do it.
That if we listen to the inner voice keeping us safe in our comfort zones, we may never experience the joy of proving ourselves wrong.
I’d become comfortable with my belief I can’t do headstands.
It was evidently time for that belief to change…time for me to see myself in a new light and alter my preconceived notion of what I can and cannot do.
Where are you holding back in your life because you don’t feel ready? Is it time for you to make an attempt and prove yourself wrong?
“If you never try, you’ll never know…”
Namaste yogi bears,
Love Mandie xx