Be Like the Egyptians
I had a conversation last night at my local studio with a yoga teacher in training. She hasn't been studying yoga for very long (and who are we kidding, neither have I) but was asking how to get into a handstand. She told me she had only been practicing yoga for a few months but already had eyes on the most beautiful and challenging of yoga poses. We talked for a bit and I gave her some tips on how she can work on building her foundation of strength and flexibility to find whatever pose she wanted to get into.
I told her to be like the Egyptians when they built the pyramids. Pyramids have an extremely large base of stones that is built upon to support the smallest little peak of the structure. I love this analogy because so much of society is bent on getting results or achieving something faster or sooner than everyone else around us. We often forget to lay the right foundation to provide the necessary support at the top. It's this huge competition to get to one pose or another and we have forgotten about building a foundation that can support the climax of our journey.
I love beautiful yoga poses. Who doesn't want to be able to press up gracefully into a yoga pose that makes people feel like you have some kind of super power? I myself also go through these things. Challenge yourself to consider where you are at in your yoga journey and think of your own foundation. Is it strong and solid? Does it have some cracks in it that need repairing? Does it need to be bigger? Stronger? More flexible? More knowledgable? We spend so much time rushing to get to an end that we don't even understand that end when we get there!
I love handstands and some more challenging arm balancing postures. I would love to do them all. Heck, I would be so proud of myself if I could do them like some of my favourite yogis. Kino MacGregor comes to mind as I reflect on how wonderful her handstand press up is. Why can't I be like Kino? I've been practicing yoga for a few years now. Why can't I do what she does? The reality is that I can't, because I am not her. I have my own journey and learnings to get through before I can do all those poses. I have to learn and grow before I get there. I am still building my own foundation and it is okay for me to be where I am today.
I have seen this lust for success with headstands too. People, please be VERY careful with your neck! I don't want to think about how many times I have seen people try to balance on their heads and they shoot their legs up or kick and flail them around while trying to find balance on their heads. If you break your neck, you will have some problems to face that are ultimately avoidable. While I am all for these poses we need to take a step back and work on that foundation so we avoid injuring ourselves. Seek proper help and support from a teacher who has taken the time to understand the anatomy behind these poses and work towards your goal consistently and with intention. Kino MacGregor (btw I love her in a yoga kind of way) took five years to really get her handstand under control. If it can take someone like her five years, practicing every day, studying with the most devoted yogis then maybe we can cut ourselves some slack and realize that it might take us even longer to get to our desired pose as we balance life, family, work and squeeze in some yoga.
I have lots of tips on how to build your foundation so if you would like to know more, let me know. I am happy to share.
Remember, the next time you feel yourself getting frustrated over a pose you wish you could do, just think like the Egyptians and start looking at your foundation. There just might be some cracks you need to fill that are keeping you from achieving your goal. Identify them and put in the time to address them properly. You'll be there at the peak before you know it.