Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Upward Facing Bow Pose



Sometimes, it is requested of me to make an announcement. I've announced the "upcoming teacher training" at the various studios I've worked for many years now. Occasionally, after class, someone will come up to me and say something like, "I'm interested in the teacher training, but, how many of the poses do I need to be able to do?" First of all I don't even know how many poses there are; BKS Iyengar's extremely informative book Light on Yoga lists 602 poses, but I'm not convinced that's all of them. I've been practicing yoga for 14 years, teaching for 6 and I have no idea how many poses I can do, the point is, that's not the point. When a potential teacher trainee asks me that question, I assure them to the best of my ability that they'll find out "the poses" don't really have that much to do with it. I encourage them to do teacher training to deepen their awareness of themselves, reality and yes, the practice of yoga.

I remember once though, I was also concerned with that question. Before I started teacher training, I thought often of how I had never done upward facing bow pose, also known as full wheel. I had never even tried to do it, I was too scared to even try. I came to yoga seriously when I was 21 because I had a pretty serious back injury and even after years of doing yoga, back-bending still felt dangerous and frightening. When I finally did my first full wheel, it with the help of all of my yoga school classmates. Our beautiful and very backbendy teacher taught us how to help someone into full wheel with the use of straps; she knew I had never done full wheel, so I was the guinea pig. I'll never forget the feeling of coming down out of the pose for the first time and not being in pain; I started crying I was so happy. On the way home, I caught a glance of myself in the reflection of the subway window, the person who was looking back at me was someone who could do full wheel pose, full wheel pose you guys, full wheel. Even though I could do full wheel, for years, I chose to skip it; just because I could do it didn't mean I wanted to.

Lucky for me I had a sleepover last night with the coolest animal on the planet, Smokey. Nothing beats spending time with Smokey, but I did miss the yoga class I usually go to on Tuesday mornings. It shocked me a little to realize why I missed going to class. See, at the end of this weirdo cool class I take, the teacher has us do full wheel for about a minute and while we do it, he tells us to relax. When I started taking the class and doing so much full wheel, I became aware of the voice inside of my head telling me how hard it was, and how much harder it was going to get the longer we stayed there. Then, somehow, I remembered that I don't have to believe everything the voice inside of my head says and that I can actually change what the voice inside of my head is saying. "This is so fun," I started silently saying to myself, "and easy too. God this is easy." Kids, I kid you not, now it is fun and easy. Hanging out in full wheel for a whole minute is actually one of my favorite things I do every week, goes to show I can change, anyone can. Goes to show the poses are just the beginning.

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