I was teaching a Vinyasa class a while ago and building up to one of our peak poses, Bird of Paradise (check out my pregnant one pictured…probably won’t be busting that one out in a few weeks!) If you are blessed with flexible hamstrings and open shoulders then you are probably up for the challenge, otherwise this is one bird that might not even get off the ground.
So what do you do when you can’t get there? Criticise yourself? Give up? Silently curse your extra bendy neighbour? Why not take a leaf out of one of my student’s books and have a laugh trying, find your own edge, and give it your own label…in his case, Peking Duck! Despite being surrounded by females, this well-built guy is never afraid to accept where he is at in his yoga practice, and his level of Bird of Paradise, self titled Peking Duck, is the perfect example! It is also a great reminder that right we are now is right where we need to be.
The story of the Peking Duck has even taught me a thing or two about my own practice. Now at 15 weeks pregnant, I can feel my body changing in many ways. That tight feeling in my belly and daily twinges are a sure sign something is setting up residence! While a few months ago you might have seen me springing in and out of full wheel backbends, these days you are more likely to find me chilling out in a supported variation. While I know these poses are still available to me and I don’t have to stop my practice, right now I am adjusting my edge to the point that feels good for my body, right in this moment.
Remembering that every day is different and every day our edge changes is so important. Learning to let go of comparisons and judgement and be with who we are today is at the very heart of our yoga practice. The moral of this story? Think of the Peking Duck next time you do anything other than accept yourself where you are today! Try it next time you are on your mat and hear the little voice of your ego arising! Instead of saying “I can’t,” switch it to “I’m not there today, and you know what? That’s totally ok.”
“Yoga practice is like life. Each circumstance in which we find ourselves is like a pose. Some poses are hard to hold, others are pleasant. It is how we hold ourselves in the pose that will determine whether we will suffer or grow. And whether or not we will listen to the drama of the ego, or the wisdom of the spirit.”