10 May, 2013

You don't need to have all the answers

Today was Power Vinyasa with Nicole Tsong.

"You don't need to have all the answers..."

That was the thought that went through my mind at the start of class today, and it's the thought that might best be mantra-ized into my life for the foreseeable future. Because that is the reality of things. I am always trying to know everything, and to be ready for everything, and to have a course of action for any contingency. And, there's a line between "preparedness" and "reactivity" that is pretty broad.

Still riding the wave of consecutive tough classes, today was another hard one. Still not sleeping that well, but I am starting to find a way to do this power yoga and dial up or down the intensity, even just a little bit, without extreme modification. It was nice to take Nicole's class, as she is another teacher whom I've missed for several months.

This is one of my favorite things about yoga. The variety of teachers we have available to us, even just at one studio. And when I add drop-ins at other studios, there are 12-15 different teachers whose class I could potentially take in any week. The yoga is always the yoga, but my emotions will obviously be colored by who the instructor is, how they teach on that day, and by my association or experiences with that instructor based on conversations I may have had with them. I enjoy having this luxury in my life of a series guides who help me, in their own subtly unique ways, to pursue my goals and get clarity in my life.

This week, I noticed for the first time that "knee-to-nose" is happening in a different mechanical degree than ever before. I recall, a year ago, in classes at Urban Yoga Spa, when we'd do this pose, my knee would squeeze in to somewhere around mid-chest, and that's all there was. I would even think to myself, "Knee to nose? That's never going to happen!" This week, I must have been feeling motivated on one particular day and, instead of doing what I normally do, without even thinking about it, which would be "knee-to-chest," I consciously went a little further to see where it took me. Perhaps it was the specific language used by the instructor (I think it might have been Carley, but I am not sure). And what I discovered, to my surprise, was that I could do knee-to-forehead!! I had no idea this was possible for me, and I also don't know how long it may have been possible before I ever tried it. And I also don't have a clear understanding of what has changed in me to enable that. Is my core stronger? Is my low back more flexible? Is my upper back more flexible? I have no idea. But there it is. A yoga milestone.

There have been a few milestones since I started practicing yoga that were things that were distinct limitations  that, at some point, I believed would always be limitations:
  • Knee-to-nose (we just talked about that one)
  • Wrapping right foot on Eagle (I hurt myself in the "old days" forcing it, but now it comes easily)
  • Sitting in Hero's Pose at all
  • Right foot to my upper thigh on Tree (used to only be able to do it on the left side)
There are other things I still cannot yet do, that I often wonder if I'll "ever" be able to do:
  • Utthita hasta padangusthasana (standing hand-to-foot pose)
  • Seated Half Lotus
  • Any sort of unassisted headstand or handstand
  • Bird of Paradise
  • Hanumanasana (seated forward split)
In each of those poses, I have a very clear idea of what is preventing me from doing them at this time. The biggest factors are hamstring flexibility, hip joint flexibility, hip flexor flexibility, shoulder joint flexibility, core strength, and fear. So, in short, everything that we spend all our time working on when practicing yoga. But I can't look at my practice, over the past year and a half, and then look to the future, and say "never." I don't know when these things will happen. That is true. It could be 6 months. It could be 3 years. It could be 15 years. 

Fortunately, I don't need to have all the answers.

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