Beginner Yogis: Why Everyone Else is Working To Get Back To Where You Are Right Now
Handstand, headstand, pincha mayurasana. Scorpion, grasshopper, flying crow. Chinstand, dropbacks, jump throughs.
Yoga is all about the advanced and fancy poses. At least if you just take yoga to be what scrolling through your Insta feed tells you.
And I am a guilty as anyone is of making it look that way. Especially of late when I have been working so explicitly and specifically on my pincha.
So when you get asked the question of whether it's only about the pose, and you deny it, the retort inevitably comes when why are you working so hard to improve. Why carve time out of every day to get better and to move to more advanced postures and fancier variations?
Let me tell you a story...
I taught my husband and a friend of his yoga one evening a few weeks ago. And it was HARD.
The two of them are pretty much brand new to yoga but spend a lot of time on their road bikes. So I had two muscle-bound giants laid out in front of me, with no idea what the difference between Warrior 1 and Warrior 2 is, and a whole host of aches and pains that I knew yoga will help in the long term but in the short term make doing the yoga mighty challenging.
But they did it. They huffed and puffed through downward dog, tried and mostly failed to let go in child's pose, struggled to look beyond the floor in chair pose. And at the end of it all, we came back to an easy crossed legs seat, and they remarked that it was a lot easier to sit in that shape then than it had been an hour ago. And that would have been enough to make it all worth it. For them as students and for me as a teacher.
But it wasn't that moment. It was a couple of minutes later when they looked at the time and remarked at how quickly it had sped by. Because they had been right there in the moment for almost an entire hour. Because nearly every moment of that hour had been HARD. Their minds were so consumed by what their bodies were trying to do that there was nothing else for that sliver of time.
That is what the more advanced poses are giving you. The opportunity to get back to being a beginner. To barely being able to think or feel or breath. To be so overwhelmed by what you are trying to do that only what is right there on your mat with you at that very moment exists.
And then to slowly re-find your balance. To learn again what it is to re-find your breath. To experience what it is it to try and fail and fail some more.To realise that you can be ok with that failure. That you can sit with it and not be damaged by it. That you are more whole for having tried in the first place, not less for not having succeeded.
Until one day you try again. And master the pose. With breath and with stability and control.
And the the cycle begins again.
As your body opens and strengthens it takes more and more to get back to that place. Like a drug, you build resistance to it, so have to keep upping the dosage.
Now, don't take that to mean that the only way your practice will progress is if your postures progress. That is how it tends to begin. You fall deep into the physical, you get, dare I say it, addicted to the
So now when I see a beginner, I am a little jealous. Because that is exactly where I am trying to get back to. We are all trying to learn the same lessons. It just takes a different dose of medicine.