Roughly a decade ago, I attempted my first hot yoga class. I blogged about my recent return to Bikram yoga, and how fantastic it is.
The toe stand posture scared the crap out of me. As a devout runner, my hips and legs are very tight. Bending in certain positions has been a difficult process, and I couldn’t imagine placing a foot over a leg and bending down, catching yourself on your hands, only to sit back onto an extended toe. So, whenever the instructor would say, “it’s time for toe stand”, I would always do the modified version, which is this:
Inside, I really wanted to try the toe stand. There were times I’d get into the position, only to fall out of it. I’d start out in tree pose, and lean forward, and become afraid. Would my hips hurt? Could my legs handle the position?
After a recent talk with the instructor, I’ve learned how important breathing is in the practice of yoga. She’s always mentioning inhaling or exhaling, but I have never followed through. I just breathed however I wanted to. She informed me how inhaling or exhaling at certain times can help you to extend, or to move deeper into a stretch or movement. So, I’ve been really working on that. The other thing she mentioned was to take my time getting into the postures. It’s not a race, and for me, everything always is. I’m so used to “training”, and yoga isn’t about that. It’s just being.
So, last night, I went for it. It was time for the toe stand posture, and I started out in tree pose. My right foot was resting against my left thigh, and I bent my left leg down into a squat, leaning forward. For a moment, I was worried, but really, what’s the worst that can happen? I fall out of the pose? And who would care if I did, anyway, other than me? I continued to lean forward, and fell onto my hands, and they caught me. I sat back gently, left toes up, sitting onto my foot. I looked at myself in the mirror, and I couldn’t believe I was doing it! It was wobbly. I tried to center myself, breathing deeply through my nose. Slowly. Patiently. The last step is to bring your hands to heart center, and I wasn’t able to do that, but I was incredibly proud of myself. I got past the fear, the “what if’s”, and I did it, and that was all that mattered to me.
I’m starting to see that a lot of the limitations I set on myself are merely that; limitations. If I take the time, if I slowly work on it, if I don’t rush myself and listen to my body, I will get there. It might not be when everyone else does, and that’s okay by me. I’ll keep trying, a little more at a time, and it will happen.
What are some of your favorite yoga poses (if you practice yoga)? What are some of your least?