Much as I loved my super relaxing holiday I was rather pleased to get back to yoga class this week. I was looking forward to having a good stretch and maybe working off some of the cheese I ate on holiday. Of course in an ideal world I would have taken my mat on holiday and got up early every day for a little bit of yoga to make the most of the warm weather…… However much as I love the idea I am very lazy when holidaying so that is unlikely to ever happen! Nevertheless I still felt slightly guilty for my inactivity. I have an amazing capacity for feeling guilty about things and generally fretting. So amazing indeed that I can even bring it to a hobby as relaxing as yoga!
So, trying to ignore feelings of guilt about recent gaps in my yoga practice I turned up to class expecting to struggle through. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the class sailed by and rather than struggling through the postures I was really enjoying putting my body through its paces. We did a lot of work on our elbow dog and I was encouraged to find that I am finding that posture easier and easier to hold. Despite my little break from yoga I can still see how my body is getting stronger and how my overall practice is improving.
Towards the end of the class it was time for forearm stand. The more progress I make with inversions the less apprehensive I feel about having ago. I was thrilled to find that I managed to hold an assisted forearm stand (emphasis on the assisted!). One thing I really enjoy about partner work with inversions is the chance to see how other people are approaching the posture and to get encouragement from them and tips on how to improve. My partner suggested that I try moving my gaze and looking at my hands rather than straight down. This was a really small change but one that has really helped me make sense of the posture and given me hope that one day I’ll find myself in an unassisted forearm stand and maybe even transition into and out of the posture with a little grace!
My improvement with forearm stand gave me the encouragement to try out a full wheel rather than a standard bridge for the back bend at the end of the class. In recent months I have been avoiding this posture feeling too tired at the end of the class but this time I felt inspired to try. I couldn’t hold the posture for as long as I’d like and I’m sure that my alignment needs a lot of work but I’m inspired to make a really good full wheel my next project!
For me one of the most frustrating things about yoga is that you can’t push or force yourself into a posture. You have to relax and let it happen or you’ll just tense up and won’t get anywhere. For me it’s even worse with balancing postures and inversions as I will also fall over the moment I start trying really hard. This has been a major barrier to my inversion progress as the longer it takes me to get my headstand, handstand and forearm stands looking anywhere decent the more frustrated I get and the less likely it is to happen!
After what seems like months of unsuccessful attempts to get into handstand or forearm stand I think (touch wood) that I might finally have worked out the trick. No trying so hard. I turned up at yoga last week frankly knackered. It had been a very long and stressful day at work and all I really wanted to do was have a little nap. I was too tired to put much thought into what I was doing and just concentrated on the instructions from my teacher. I hadn’t been the previous week so all my concentration was taken up with keeping my slightly resistant muscles from making me wobble. So, when we started on forearm stand, rather than spending time worrying that I wouldn’t be able to do it, I just had a go. We were doing partner work and I was shocked when I managed to kick my legs up high enough for my partner to catch them and, though I needed to be supported and my alignment wasn’t exactly textbook, I managed to hold the posture and fall out with something approaching poise! Though a tiny achievement for some this has been a huge breakthrough for me and I left the class in the most upbeat post yoga mood I have felt in quite some time. I suspect this was also aided by the short meditation our teacher included at the end.
The mind is a very naughty thing though and by the time this week’s class came around I’d convinced myself that it was just a fluke. So when we started to practice our handstand I wasn’t feeling too hopeful. But I got myself next to the wall and kicked up as hard as I could. I was thrilled when I kicked up high enough for my teacher to catch my legs (she’s very encouraging so I suspect that she helped me out with the last part and yanked me up a bit…..). It may have been wobbly and assisted by both the wall and my teacher supporting me but I couldn’t have been more pleased if I’d done it all by my self in the middle of the room!
I’m feeling excited about my future progress and hope that this the start of great leaps forward to come!