I was feeling a lot more psyched about the view than I was about actually being there. It was just one of those days. I felt like I had to drag myself to even get to my yoga class. But man, those are precisely the days that I have the most rewarding experiences while moving my body.
I love all kinds of movement including; dance, riding horses, and running. However, this year in particular, I’ve found a TON of stress relief through refining my yoga practice. It’s been a source of grounding for me in our ever changing world.
My first class at the barn, was back in January, where I was challenged in a that I never had been before. Our instructor Samantha challenged us to do headstands. She guided us, throughout that hour, on how to work up the strength in our forearms to prepare for it. Basically you do dolphin pose, (forearms lay on the mat while you go into downward dog pose). I didn’t think that would really make much of a difference. I had been practicing yoga for 6 years, and it never had crossed my mind to try headstands. I guess I just never believed they were possible for me to do. I never really had an instructor like Samantha either.
When the time came to practice our headstand I was impressed by all the young girls around me that were going for it. But I wasn’t quite sure I was ready to attempt something so intimidating quite yet. So I just observed. By my next yoga class I had with Samantha I focused on strengthening my forearms while going into dolphin pose a lot. I wanted to see what it was like to try a headstand. When it was time to try, I was hesitant, and my instructor could tell I was nervous. So she offered to help me get up into it. With her help I actually got into it. When it was happening, regardless of whether she was guiding me or not, I was amazed that my body could even get into that position at all. I actually felt myself balancing almost without needing her help to hold me there. However, when she let go I soon crumbled to the floor. It didn’t really matter though, because that moment gave me all the hope I needed to help me see what was possible.
After that class, I went home and took screenshots of difficult yoga poses, and I added them to a “body goals” vision board. This was my first experience doing a specific vision board for what I wanted to experience with my body and not what I wanted my body to be (ex: bikini pictures). It was an exciting feeling, to know that I was beginning to partner with my body and no longer make it my enemy. Getting into that headstand with the help of my instructor holding me, opened me up to all the things I wanted to do with my body.
Over the next several weeks I practiced headstands assisted by my wall at home. I’ll tell ya, it was a glorious moment for me when I was able to get up with barely any contact with the wall! So I continued practicing every day building my core strength with planks, and dolphin poses to help build up my forearms. Yoga is an interesting thing. It’s a combination of small consistent daily efforts that don’t seem like they're making a difference. Then one day you decide to try out a pose you haven’t been able to do, and to your complete surprise you actually will be able to do it!
We all have limiting thoughts and conditions we put on our bodies. Mine was my “bad back”. I’ve been in several accidents in the past, all caused by other people. So wheel pose/back bend, was something that made me cringe just looking at. However, after my first few classes with Samantha at the barn, I started to change my mind a little bit, and added wheel pose to my vision board.
One day as I was relaxing at home with my boyfriend, I suddenly got the urge to try wheel pose. I didn’t really think it would happen, but I wanted to try anyway. To my complete and utter shock, I actually did it! It wasn’t picture perfect, and I still have quite a bit of arm strength to develop so that I don’t tweak my back while doing it… but damn!! I actually did it. As soon as I was in it, I screamed to Zack “Take a picture of me now!!” This was a big moment for me, so I knew I would enjoy it most if I had a picture to look back on. Boy was I right about that! Whenever I’m having a down day, I look at that picture, and it makes me feel so proud of myself and how far I’ve come. NEVER in my life did I think this was possible for me!
After doing something challenging like that with your body it kind of feels like a high. I never love my body more than after I’m able to accomplish a challenging yoga pose like that. It just keeps getting better the longer and more consistently you practice yoga too!
Then recently, in my yoga class, I thought to myself… “This is the day. The day I get into a headstand without using the wall at all.” That thought surprised even me. When it came time to practice our headstands, I thought I would give it a try. I let my instructor help me up a bit, but to my surprise I was able to hold the pose on my own for a significant amount of time. I felt my core muscles hold me so still. I even was able to ask my instructor to take a picture of me, while still remaining in the pose! I felt fully present in my power, and I felt like a complete badass!
I was utterly in love with my body and myself at that moment. I still am glowing as I reflect on this beautiful experience. To think how far I’ve come, in just 6 months, amazes me. It only took a few people that challenged my belief system. They opened me up to reconsider what was actually possible for me. Or at least what I believed was possible for myself. I’ve grown so much in the last few months. My ability to hold myself up, my core, and my strength have all improved drastically through my yoga practice. I’m so grateful for Samantha and others that helped encourage me to expand my vision for my body, myself, and my life.
My yoga practice has taught me that my body wants to show up to support me. I just get in it’s way by the way I think and speak about it. The truth is my body will only go where I allow it to go. So moral of the story. Go after what you want, move your body in the way you’ve been craving, but haven’t had the courage to try yet. You don’t know what you are capable of doing until you try… and try and try again!