If you have been in one of my classes recently, this won’t be new to you. But I think it’s something we could all hear again and again. Celebrate your accomplishments, your victories, big and small, the milestones you pass.
This all started about two weeks ago when I needed to take a photo for my last blog post – Finding Confidence in Crop Tops and Sports Bras. Through the week I had been teaching a pose, Eka Pada Rajakapotasana, with the assist of a strap. It had been going well during my demos, so it seemed like a good pose to choose. I decided to try it without the strap just to see if I could swivel my arm around while keeping hold of my foot. That went well. Then I reached my other back and was able to get it down to my foot too. So then I thought, well let’s try just letting your head go back, which has always been what has scared me in past. Not only was that a success, but then as I kept my grip on my foot, my toe magically touched my head for a moment.
Eka Pada Rajakapotasana is a pose I normally do maybe once every two years, aka not very often. But each time I try it, it gets better and better. And this was my biggest feat yet. I was excited, awed, and proud. I’ve seen and felt a lot of changes in my body since starting my 300 hour training and I’m constantly amazed, but this was a whole new level. I felt strong, open, but fully in control. What normally happens when I get deep into a pose, I get excited and then immediately fall out. But this was sustainable. Since then I’ve continued to try new poses or new set ups in poses and have caught myself doing a little happy dance after each accomplishment.
I think we can all be too hard on ourselves. We get frustrated if there’s something we can’t do, especially in the yoga studio environment. If there’s a challenge in class, it can be frustrating if you can’t do it and look around to see other people making it look so damn easy. I have been that person, and will indefinitely continue to be. But we can’t compare ourselves to others. We all have different bodies, different strengths and weakness, different past experiences, and come into class from a variety of mindsets. If I feel defeated because maybe it was a tough day, or shit week, or awful month, even before trying something new, it never ends well. But when I go in with a positive attitude and the will to try even if I fail, things tend to go better. Plus, you have no idea where someone else is on their journey. It could be their first yoga class, or they could have been doing it for decades.
While you can’t compare yourself to others, you can compare yourself to you. If it’s the first time trying a pose, acknowledge that it’s your first attempt and you have to start somewhere. Maybe that’s as simple as having the courage to try. Then you continue to take the pose one step at a time for every attempt thereafter. If it’s your 100th time trying to the pose, acknowledge the differences from the first dozen times. Maybe it’s still not comfortable or easy, but do you feel more connected? Stronger? Flexible? Less scared? And by the thousandth time, it might feel like a whole new pose.
Whether you’re a beginner, an advanced practitioner, or somewhere in between, there will always be accomplishments to celebrate. Maybe it’s showing up to class. Or touching your fingertips to the floor in Uttanasana. Or perhaps it’s doing a handstand press in the middle of the room. No matter where you are on your journey, there will always be victories. There will always be something to celebrate. So do it. Do your own happy dance, smile uncontrollably, yell out in joy if you need to. Yoga is a practice and it will always have something to teach us. And while you’re on the journey, don’t forget to stop and smell the roses.