“I do not try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to dance better than myself.” ~Mikhail Baryshnikov
Confession. I have a huge crush on Baryshnikov. Ever since I saw him in the movie with Shirley MacLaine, and in White Nights with Gregory Hines. That has nothing to do with today’s post, but I felt I must share for those who may crush on him too.
Yesterday was yoga day. January, last year, I started a fairly regular hot yoga practice. I looked into hot yoga after reading an article with Colin Farrell talking about the spiritual side of it. As a newly, recovering compulsive eater searching for ways to help in recovery and abstinence, I was open to anything that may give relief. The substance may vary, but addiction is addiction. I figured if it was beneficial for his recovery, it could help mine. There was also a desire to develop a more loving, compassionate relationship with my body.
After years of what felt like punishing my body into submission, I wanted to find a way to gently guide myself into health and wellness. The place I practice is exactly what I needed. One of my favorite teachers, Matt, describes building a pose from the ground up, and remembering to engage your legs for a strong foundation. That can be said for how to do anything. Does what you’re doing support your vision or ultimate goal? Are you taking time to develop a foundation that will allow you to grow? Before I started my current training, I spent probably a week thinking about what events I wanted to participate in and why. Only then did I really look at how. I scheduled a few dedicated hours to construct a training program that feels good like something I can follow to achieve my goals.
Another teacher, Joe, mentioned once about the pose fitting your body and not your body fitting the pose. Meaning your body will express the pose the best way it can. Don’t force it. That was a blessing! A pose won’t be expressed the same way on your body and my body. Even if we have the same body type, we’ve had different experiences so there’s no point in comparing. We all reach poses at a different time as well. Though, I must say a few month back I was motoring through class feeling good about my breathing and expressions. Until…Svarga Dvidasana, Bird of Paradise! I stood straight up. Looking around class. Not in Mountain or Tree pose. More in the “What is happening here?” pose. My mind went, “Who came up with this craziness?? I have breasts and thighs! How on earth am I supposed to move and twist things to do that madness?!” Joe’s voice came to mind, and gave me peace. I said, “Not today, Zurg!” in the voice of my youngest nephew, returned to the breath and went into Down Dog.
Yesterday, Matt worked us through a rigorous Flow class. We came to my friend, Bird of Paradise. This time I was able to attempt it. No luck yet with anything close to full expression, but I built the base and didn’t worry about how my expression was different from anyone else’s. There’s another pose that’s been challenging, well more than one, but today’s special mention goes to Utthita Hasta Padangustasana, Extended Hand-To-Big-Toe Pose. For the first time, I was able to stand strong. Quite a proud moment. Though, I wonder if it was a matter of trusting that I’d built my foundation and focusing only on my expression that allowed me to stand.