When I first started, just flowing through a chaturanga or holding a plank was difficult. Warrior two left me feeling exposed, and anytime the instructor went on his or her head, I just watched in awe. I remember thinking those things impossible for me.
One day, after a few weeks of practice, an instructor encouraged me to try an arm balance and meticulously went through the set up of crow pose. She told me that by just having the weight in my arms, I am doing the pose correctly. That encouraged me to continue. I decided that if I wanted to, I could do this.
I started off by practicing just the set up and found the way to enter into the pose that worked best for me. (I still have to start in frog pose to get desired results.) I kept at it, practicing the pose in my living room, building arm strength by doing push up and planks. And then, after about two months of trial and error and constant practice, I could consistently settle into crow pose and hover my legs in the air.
Crow pose was the first difficult pose I tried and I succeeded at it with practice. I learned through this experience, that yoga is not only a way to exercise, but also a way of life. By being aware of my breath during my daily activities and by trusting myself to be able to handle any situation as it comes my way, I have changed my entire way of thinking.
I can't say that I've often felt particularly weak, but now I feel strong. I am capable and that has really come out in my writing, which is how I mostly identify myself. It is a big transition to cover in just a couple paragraphs, but it is a journey, one where I'm excited to see what comes next.
I learned a couple other arm balance poses that I'm still working on mastering. But that is the way of yoga, even something as simple as a forward fold can feel easier some days than others.
Recently, I tried the first step into a tripod headstand. This is where you use your forearms to give extra support while being inverted. It is one of the easier inversions to learn. I've tried a couple in the past and saw the world rushing to my face temporarily scaring me away from further attempts.
This time was different. I have the core muscles now and the arm strength. Six months of yoga goes a long way when it comes to building muscle. I also have my instructor next to me as a spotter giving me instruction and corrections to my form. It made all the difference. I tried once, twice and then...I balanced, on my head and, with a little spotting help, stayed there.
Oh my goodness, so many emotions went through my inverted head. The first being "I'm doing it!" Something I considered impossible was happening. That in itself was a breakthrough. I also realized I was strong enough to hold myself upright, I just need to practice more. The most important realization to me came with the fact that I wasn't afraid. It made me feel alive.
For much of my life, I've been afraid of everything, especially new things This is something I'm very proud of. However, yoga is helping me through those feelings of inability. Because with yoga, I can. I can practice, go through the steps to set up properly and train to make myself better. I'm learning that I am adept and proficient to handle whatever life throws at me. Although, that is both a scary and confident thought, I'm going to focus on the certainty that I will find a way to navigate all of life challenges.
And there have been some challenges lately. The biggest two are being sick (this damned head cold that just won't quite go away) and getting braces. For me getting braces has been a big deal. I am terrified of the dentist. Thankfully, I found the one I did because she is amazing and helps me not be so afraid. I finally got my mouth all cleaned up and fixed up, but the next step to help me improve was braces.
I got my braces put on at the end of last month, so that just over three weeks ago. And now I also have an expander on my top jaw. These are all things I need to improve my oral health, which will help all of me. I know this. But this process is not painless. I've had many bad headaches and pressure on my jaws, which just make me feel horrible. Eating is difficult and not enjoyable anymore. Put being sick with a head cold on top of this and I have to admit, I have not had the best couple of weeks.
I've been tired and sore and absolutely void of creativity. Writing and creating are both part of who I am. And I haven't been feeling myself lately. Thankfully, yoga has been consistent. I only missed two planned practices because of being sick, so all in all not horrible.
Now, I've decided I'm tired of being sick and tired. I'm going to have to find a way to think through the discomfort. In yoga, when you hold a pose, it is not always comfortable. the goal is to engage your muscles and stretch further than you think possible. I have learned how to breath and seek contentment in the discomfort, knowing that it is making me better and stronger. That is what I need during this stage of my life with braces. Because hopefully the sick part will eventually get better.
Yoga, once again, has pulled me through a tough time and made me realize that I'm stronger than I think and I can do this, I have too. I might as well make the best of it. Seeing the world on my head gave me the perspective I needed to push through feeling tired and sore, and begin to look around the discomforts and find my strength and my creativity again.
There is this quote that says, "Sometimes what you're most afraid of doing is the very thing that will set you free." I believe this quote is right. I'm scared of braces and standing on my head, but they will both help set me free. This is not the freedom of just one moment, but a journey towards confidence and strength that I could not have known before.
The goal is set, getting my braces off and mastering difficult yoga poses, but the journey is where the lessons are learned. And I'm willing to learn, to grow, and to challenge myself. I want to be free, I want to live fearlessly letting my inner light shine bright. I will overcome these challenges and emerge stronger and brighter on the other side. It will be an amazing journey.