This is a personal letter to my yoga practice, published in Elephant Journal, Nov ’14…Cheryl x
Dear yoga practice: I miss you.
We used to be great friends, but lately I’ve felt you slipping away.
I want to be honest and tell you that I’ve been harbouring strange feelings towards you, to the point that sometimes I can’t be bothered to work at our relationship anymore. I know this sounds harsh, so I’m reaching out to you. What can we do? We used to have a great thing going. Do you think we can get this back?
I think I’ve discovered the root of why I have been feeling like I can’t quite keep up with things these days, whether it is my yoga practice or parenting skills that come under the microscope. It’s the reason why my ego tells me I am not quite good enough, slim enough, bendy enough, strong enough…
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.
When asked why she used to strive for the perfect drop back from standing to a backbend in her yoga practice, our philosophy teacher, Rose says very seriously: “Because it was exhilarating….Oh, and I used to take naked pictures of myself on the beach doing drop backs to send to my boyfriend…”
Well, at least she’s honest about it! But, putting Rose’s crazy hippie days in Goa aside, we all have a pose in our practice that we strive for and love to do. While there is nothing wrong with that, somewhere along our yoga path our ego can get too big for its boots, and that pose we so covet can land us with an injury. We forget that the physical practice (asana) is just one tool in the yoga box, and that it is in fact number three of the eight limbs of yoga. Out in front are the much overlooked ‘yamas and niyamas’ – yoga’s little moral and ethical codes. (I’ll delve into those another day!)