One of my students did crow pose last night for the first time.
I tend to go back and forth in giving praise for getting into yoga postures. Because… I often wonder… what does it really mean anyway? I so often find myself IN AWE of the incredible things people can do with their bodies. And it sometimes brings me nearly to tears when I witness a student do a pose they’ve been practicing for years.
But then I’m like… Sometimes the most physically demanding postures can actually feel like the easiest. And vice versa: where the less physically demanding postures can challenge us the most. Sometimes it feels like yoga today is so closely associated with “What can you do?” OR “What can you show me?” OR “Look at me!”
As a teacher, I can’t show you anything. I mean I can show you the poses I am physically capable of and maybe that gives you an idea of healthy alignment or I can explain with my body better than my words… but what does that have to do with taking my yoga off the mat? I can’t tell you how to feel. Or what to think. Or WHAT to feel in your body. Or what to think about yourself.
But what I can do is ask questions that might reveal something about yourself.
The young woman who got into crow did so quietly and with such ease that I asked her:
“What did you find helpful in getting into crow?”
She looked at me with a puzzled expression on her face, then said:
“I dunno … I just did it. I felt confident.”
She then explained to me that for years she’s been going to yoga. Larger classes where she pushed herself too far, too soon. In our small little group, she felt confident as she took slow steps and effortlessly floated her feet off the ground.
Just so you know, I was expecting an answer like “I used my abs” or “I engaged my glutes.”
Nope … She. Just. Felt. Confident.
And I. Was. In. Awe. of her response.
It should be noted that the class took place in an eating disorder recovery in-patient center. These women spend hours daily in different forms of talk therapy, group therapy, art therapy, and sometimes equine therapy to dig deep and make progress like … build confidence.
I was amazed at this student’s self-awareness.
If there’s any takeaway from my sharing this little anecdote with you it’s this:
Take time to pause.
Whether it’s after a really tough pose. A long run. A challenging presentation at work. A good read. An argument with a loved one. Take time to pause. To thank your body. To acknowledge what you are capable of. To notice the world around you. To take in a breath-taking view. To notice what you are feeling. To make the connection with yourself that allows you to understand the essence of WHO YOU ARE just a little bit more.