Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Yoga On and Off the Mat

In a recent yoga class the teacher invited those who “have their certificate” to take themselves up into a headstand. The “certificate” is his playful way of suggesting that he doesn’t want to be around for crashes, especially in a big class. Those who don’t have their certificate should find a modification, something leading up to or suggesting a headstand. So, on this particular day I was feeling rather daring, and actually took myself up, or almost up, both feet off the ground, second leg not quite all the way to perpendicular, without going over to my standard friendly wall spotter.

In conversation with a yogi friend, I expressed delight with myself over this accomplishment, and he offered that for him the headstand was, “more about fear than skill”. This got me to thinking about what it is beyond skill that gets in my way. I deeply understand that the postures I play with on my yoga mat, are about so much more than what I do on the mat, but follow me in my life off of the mat as well. So, in entertaining this conversation with others, I humbly acknowledged that for me what gets in the way of headstand, and many other things on and off the mat, is not skill, but a big dose of self-doubt as well as issues with “core strength”. Again, I re-visit the ways I get so deeply drawn to my yoga practice. It is such a safe and reassuring way to contradict my deepest personal struggles. If I have a fight with core strength out in the "real world", it is likely over something that will truly have a significant consequence, like figuring out how much to assert myself with a client, colleague, or family member. If I struggle with core strength on my mat, all I have to do is figure out that maybe the second leg will only make it part way up today, but Hey! I no longer need that wall prop I so depended on forever and ever. If that is the case, maybe, just maybe I can take my levels of self-doubt down a notch next time I am face to face in one of my more challenging relationships! And, I do find that the more I play with some of my doubts, fears, and other agitations on the mat, the more I can make the connections elsewhere. The rewards of practice follow me both on and off the mat.