Leaning in and looking forward

I’ve been so busy writing in my yoga teacher training journal lately that I’ve neglected this blog. But a weekend workshop with Kathryn Budig at LoveYoga reinvigorated me, so I’m back.

Beth with Kathryn

Kathryn Budig and me at LoveYoga in Beaumont TX

I had an amazing time and just had to share some of the insights I gained. One of the coolest things about Kathryn’s teaching is her use of fun, funny analogies. As we worked on handstands (something I NEVER thought I’d be doing), we had to remember a magical trio of helpers — Marcel, corset, panini.

Some teachers might remind you to stabilize your shoulders. Kathryn had us imagine keeping Marcel the Shell with Shoes On tucked tightly into the shoulder joint. I must admit, I lost Marcel a few times yesterday, which sent me tumbling onto my head once. But then I watched this video and this one starring Marcel this morning, and he’s so freaking adorable I never want to let him go again.

As for the corset and panini, the more traditional instruction might be to squeeze in to the midline. Instead, we went all Scarlett O’Hara with the lower ribs and imagined our thighs as giant sandwich presses. That last part seems karmically appropriate, considering my diet.

Most exciting for me though, I FINALLY GOT BAKASANA!!!

Beth in bakasana (crow)

Me in bakasana (crow)

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been trying and failing to master this one, and despite my and my teachers’ best efforts, it wasn’t happening. Somehow with Kathryn’s help yesterday, everything clicked. I think there were a few key pieces I hadn’t thought about before:

  1. Marcel
  2. Lifting my hips high before lifting my feet
  3. T-rex arms (another wonderful analogy reminding us to squeeze our elbows and upper arms in close, leaving just stubby Tyrannosaurus rex forearms)
  4. Leaning in and looking forward

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that “leaning in and looking forward” is more than a good tip for this asana practice; it’s good advice for life. Lean In is even the name of that Sheryl Sandberg book about the ways women hold ourselves back that I’ll probably get around to reading eventually. I don’t know whether Kathryn intentionally made that connection, but it worked for me. It also tied in nicely with her Aim True talk on Friday.

Later, I started thinking about my tendencies to hold myself back personally and professionally. I’m so hypercritical of my writing that I edit myself to death before truly allowing myself to create. When I need to have an important conversation, I overthink and overstress about what to say and when to say it instead of just speaking from the heart. I make safe choices. Even in yoga, I say that certain poses are not for me. I limit myself and then, perversely, complain that I can’t get to where I want to be.

It’s time for that to stop. I need to make myself more open and more fearless — even, maybe especially, to things that seem difficult. I may stumble, but I will try instead of saying I can’t. And with practice and clear intention, I will get there. I will lean in, look forward, and let my feet leave the ground.

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