I guess I thought that, after fifteen years on my mat, I would know everything I needed to know about yoga. Thankfully, it doesn’t work that way. Yoga is full of surprises, no matter how many years we practice.
Yesterday was the perfect example. I was practicing at Green Monkey in Miami, FL with an instructor named Joey Corona. It was my first time in my class, and I knew little about him, other than he seemed to live his yoga, and I liked his teaching style and sense of humor.
Our bodies were warm from half a dozen sun salutations, by the time Joey moved us into hip openers. That familiar instinct was growing…I was ready to fly. You see, I’ve been working on arm balances almost every day this year, and I just can’t get enough. Once I finally figure a new pose out, I want to play with it even more. I find it wildly empowering to stand on my hands.
Truthfully, there’s also an element of ego involved. But it’s not what you might think. It’s not ego in the sense of “Look at me, I’m awesome!”, but more like “I can do this really hard thing and I don’t need anyone else’s help.”
I’m aware of that side of myself…the one that thinks she has all the answers, but yoga has taught me to ignore her on my mat. And because of this, I tuned her out, and asked for help, when Joey said, “now you can move from the lunge into the balance, if you’ve got it.”
I knew how to get into an arm balance from a lunge, but something told me he could make it better. I called him over, and asked him to look at my alignment.
What happened next was so unexpected, and wonderful, that I’ll never forget it.
Joey started rattling off instructions: “Ground through your left foot, reach your left hand to your right foot.”
What is he talking about? That’s not how you get into Koundinyasana!
I couldn’t question him, though, because he was still teaching a class, with twenty other people in it (including my hubby, on the mat next to me!). I fought the urge to move into Koundinyasana (Running Man Pose), which was what I wanted to do, and let him take me somewhere unfamiliar.
It felt tight, and awkward, and I worried that I might fall. And then, all of a sudden, I was in Vishvamitrasana, aka Balancing Side Angle.
The pose I thought I couldn’t do. The one I have been working on for a year, but haven’t been able to get. I was there, in the pose…and it was so surprising, I laughed out loud.
I finally got it! Months and months of work all led up to this one moment of surrendering to what was possible, and it made me happy. Blissfully, joyfully, overwhelmingly happy.
Not because I finally “own” the pose (although it is fun), but because I prepared for it, and when the time was right, I surrendered enough to let it happen.
This is the promise of yoga. On our mats, day after day, we learn to stop seeking, and be still, so the things we want most can find ultimately find us.