Looking back now, twenty years into my crazy healthy life, it’s clear that being healthy is more of a journey, than a destination. Small choices add up over time, and before we know it, we feel stronger and happier than we ever imagined. I was reminded of this yesterday, when, after many months of unsuccessful practice, I finally figured out a difficult pose on my yoga mat.
I’ve worked hard, to master standing poses, backbends, twists, and stretches. But, for years, I avoided arm balances that seemed “impossible”, such as side crow, peacock pose, and running man (Kaundinyasana). I didn’t think I would ever succeed.
It’s pretty easy for a yogini to avoid learning arm balances, because teachers always offer alternatives for those who don’t want to balance. Given the option, I took it. I was too afraid of failing, hurting myself, or just looking like a fool.
When I turned 40 in 2011, however, I decided it was now or never. I got serious about learning the arm balances. I sought advice from teachers, read about the poses online, practiced at home, and changed my mind about what was possible.
Slowly, but surely, I made progress. It became a game, and now I “collect” poses.
I make up my mind to learn a pose, and don’t quit until I achieve my goal. I flip through my yoga books, search photos on the internet for inspiration, and work on one or two balances at a time.
Sometimes it takes months, or maybe even a year. But I just keep trying. When I finally figure it out, I check it off my list, and look for a new pose to master.
In the past two years, I have collected ten new balances poses that I could not do before (photos of most of them are on the Facebook page for My Crazy Healthy Life).
Even though I have collected some really cool new balance poses in the past two years, there is still a part of me that believes I will never conquer all of them.
Kaundinyasana in particular, is one that had always eluded me, and I doubted I could master. It’s also a pose that you see pictured often in yoga magazines, which makes it seem like all the great yogis can do it.
So, of course, not being able to practie Kaundinyasana made me feel separate. Like I couldn’t quite measure up.
When I feel that way these days, I remind myself that anything is possible on my mat, with enough time and dedication, and I just keep trying.
I’m always glad I did, because eventually the poses click, as Kaundinyasana did yesterday. Like the pieces of a puzzle, it all came together, and I learned to fly in this crazy arm balance. It was such a surprise, and afterward I felt giddy for the rest of the day.
The most awesome thing about learning Kaundinyasana is that learning a yoga pose is exactly like riding a bike. It’s difficult, frustrating, and overwhelming for a while. Once you learn it, however, you own it for life.
I woke up this morning feeling profoundly grateful, inspired to learn another new pose, and feeling the need to share this story with you. I hope it reminds you that anything is possible. Keep making choices, and believing that you can be everything you hope to be, and one day soon you’ll find yourself flying in more ways than you ever imagined.