In my yoga classes there is a fair amount of focus on alignment, in spite of the fact that it is a vinyasa (flow) class. I really believe in creating good foundations on and off the mat. Quite honestly, I came by this lesson the hard way, after faltering many many times in my life, in a variety of different circumstances. Fortunately, falling down and getting back up again has become a fairly consistent modus operandi for me on pretty much a daily basis.
I used to believe that the falling down part really sucked and was actually either all my fault or some other miserable individuals, (I often used a much stronger word), that I had somehow incorporated into my life. Either way, shame and blame usually made up the foundation of how I felt about all mistakes. And as I learned over time, if the foundation was that shaky, the alignment after I rose up was even worse and usually created a lot more pain.
How did things change? My sense now, on reflection, is that after several fairly full decades of living, I got really sick and tired of thinking and subsequently behaving the same way, over and over and over again, in reaction to what was really just an authentic way of living. Trying to live up to some perfectionistic standard, or having way out of wack expectations of other people, places and things in my life, was a completely insane pattern for heart-inspired living. It had certainly not positively, (and this is an understatement), contributed to any of the relationships in my life.
So I started pretty shakily, of course with a lot of good support, to rebuild myself in terms of the way I responded to making mistakes. In the beginning I, of course, made a lot more mistakes. There was way too much conscious effort that went into the practice of change and I found myself often frustrated and exhausted. It was the proverbial skating on slightly thin ice, or here’s a better one, pushing my edge too far in my own yoga practice. Why does bound ardha chandrasana, (a really hard pose for me), even need to be part of this week’s practice?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all into expansion and pushing myself to my greatest potential, but when it comes from an insecure place, or is an ego-driven motive, I take a deep inhale, step back and take an exhale, and then, if I’m coming from the heart, stay soft, open and receptive. I know I just made myself sound perfect. Believe me, I’m far far from it, but I have learned a lot; and the practice of embracing mistakes as the beautiful grace-filled moments that they are in my life has opened me up to a greater serenity and peace, which, quite frankly, I yearn to be all about on a regular basis.
In my yoga classes, I always offer my students, toward the end of a session or class, the chance to go upside down (inversions). I offer a myriad of choices; headstands, handstands, shoulder stands, forearm balances, the delicious and restorative legs up the wall, as an invitation to change or alter the direction of new energy inside the body. In other words, it’s a way of changing perspective, sometimes coaxing the new prana to lap at those sore places that need to be soothed, mollified, made less tense. It can be a giddy luscious and quickly satisfying way of opening to grace in an altered shape. I used to live with four teenagers and realized if I wanted all of us to survive the experience of living together, literally, I was going to have to invert daily. It worked, everyone is still alive and fairly in love. I continue to invert daily. It helps greatly with keeping my heart open to the fresh experiences that making mistakes offers.
So when I’m having one of those days, and everything seems to be going wrong, I take a deep breath, go upside down, and thank the universe for the WONDERFUL opportunity to change my perspective and begin again. Most of the time……..