Practice Makes Possible

I got into my first forearm stand the other day. I was probably only up for about 5 seconds, but it felt like it could have been a lot longer. If you asked me about doing a forearm stand 6 months ago, I would have said that forearm stand isn’t for me, after all, my left shoulder if still pretty tight after my rotator cuff surgery. You may have accepted my explanation with a bit of sympathy and understanding. And I would have moved on with my life never knowing the experience of forearm stand. So what changed? I started to practice forearm stand. Simple right? It’s not magic. I just chose to try instead of choosing not to try. But, there were a few things I needed in place while I practiced. If you are ready to take on something you didn’t think possible, here is what you may need too.

You need courage. I have seen so many brand new yogis come into Seacoast Power Yoga this past week and it has been so inspiring. Some are teen girls and boys, some folks over 60. They show up with no mats and no fancy yoga clothes. Imagine that. They have courage. They may have been nervous, a little scared and pretty certain they didn’t know how it was going to go, but they came in to try a class anyway.

You need to let yourself suck. Toddlers don’t generally go from crawling to sprinting. They stand, take a step and sit down. They fall…a lot! And then they get up again. When I started practicing forearm stand, I was okay with not having a Yoga Journal cover worthy pose right away. Start practicing from where you are, despite how it looks and despite how many times you may stumble and fall.

You need to be consistent. When I first started blogging, I Googled- how to become a better writer. Well, this may sound profound. Site after site pretty much said that to become a better writer you need to write.  Every day for 30 minutes. The more I write, the more comfortable I am doing it.

You need to be awesome, not perfect. My daughter was hand-cutting cat shaped cookies the other night. They were awesome because they were all different shapes and sizes. Perfect can be boring and very uninteresting. When I’ve tried hard to make things perfect, all I have gotten was exhaustion. Do your best and let that be enough.

You need to not be attached to the result. By all means, practice with a goal or intention in mind. But then let it go. When we get so attached to the outcome, we lose sight of why the outcome is so important to us to begin with. Sure, I wanted to get into forearm stand. By practicing every week, I got to know my strength and discovered what adjustments I needed in my body. The confidence and connection I gained is much more valuable than getting into the pose itself.

You need to play. Abby, a yogi at the studio loves playing in her practice. Before and after every class, she is upside doing something fun with a big smile on her face. I love watching how lightly she takes herself, especially on that rare occasion when she falls out of a pose. Falling isn’t failing; it’s another opportunity to try again. Make it fun and light.

Practicing is something you must do, because it tests, defies and ultimately blows up the limits you have placed on yourself. I have experienced first hand how excuses, or put another way- seemingly rational reasons, on why not to practice have stood in my way of experiencing myself powerfully. I could go through my whole life without doing forearm stand. But instead, I now know the formula for doing something I didn’t think I initially could. Today, I am happy to celebrate my success. But the practice never stops. Tomorrow, I will practice again.