This is perhaps one of the most important yoga life lessons. (It is true for surfing as well…but I’ll get to that on another day.) When Carrie – one of my Core Power Yoga instructors – shared the Erin Hanson quote about falling at the end of her arm balance and inversion workshop recently, I wanted to hug her. I’d spent the last 75 minutes attempting to find flight with arm stands and even tried a wall supported tripod headstand. There was a lot of falling. And teetering. But I kept smiling. And most importantly, kept trying. And somewhere along the line, something clicked in bakasana. My feet lifted off the ground. Mind you, only for a few seconds – and I’m sure I was muscling through the pose instead of truly engaging my core – but still. I felt it, and a few of my fellow yogis saw it happen. Tears of joy (and pride) welled up in my eyes. I could not believe that I’d actually done it. And while the rest of the class moved on to try advanced poses, I kept at the basic bakasana. I even practiced when I got home. And every day since. Not every attempt has produced air. But some have. I’ve started to engage the muscles in my root core and lifted my feet and legs higher by an inch or so. I’ve also fallen. On my shoulder. On my face.
I’ve teetered and lost my balance at least once during every single one of my yoga sessions. But you know what? After each misstep comes a new chance. To focus and to start over. Life is no different. Whether you fall physically or emotionally…it happens. To all of us. The question is – will you get up again?
Yoga is a kickass workout.
Don’t let anyone tell you differently. Strength, balance and flexibility are the cornerstones of a yoga workout. Whether you practice Hatha, Vinyasa or even restorative yoga…each style provides a workout of a different sort. And each are incredibly valuable for the body and perhaps even more importantly – for the mind. Although I’m now partial to heated yoga classes (hello drippy detoxifying sweat!!), I feel my body talking to me even when I get up from my desk during the day for a few Sun Salutations. Honestly, my body feels stronger with 3 yoga sessions each week than it did when I was in full training mode for a marathon.
Savasana teaches mindfulness
How often do you take five minutes to let your body be still? (Apart from when you are sleeping!)
Regardless of the schedule and to-do lists that await you off the mat, taking time to rest in savasana at the end of a practice is integral to the full experience. Two minutes, five minutes, ten…as long as you can give yourself – the better. But the point is to resist the temptation to jump up and go back to your day. I think that I used to resist this pose because I felt as if I could not clear my mind. But then I learned that meditation and stillness can take many forms. I can focus on my breathing. I can scan my body without judgment. And despite my early incredulousness – and as hokey as it might sound – I’ve “seen things” during this final resting pose. I’ve felt waves of energy move across my forehead (or “third-eye” chakra”) eventually forming a solid heart shape that was as visible to me as a real life picture. I’ve seen flames rising and a bright yellow color. These moments would never have happened had I not opened myself to the possibility that comes from the stillness.
While it might seem strange to you to see me practicing a pose – like dancer, tree, Warrior II or even bakasana on a hiking trail or in the middle of a city sidewalk – these are more than just Instagram motivated moments. These opportunities are symbolic of how I’ve come full circle in my learning to love yoga. From avoiding it at all costs, I now seek out chances to practice – at home, while traveling – and everywhere in between. Trust me, there is no better way to appreciate the grandness of a vista than to take it all in while you breathe through a pose.