Walking out of yoga class the other day, one of my fellow students – a woman in her 60s who just started practicing about two years ago and has since lost 25 pounds and been able to get off several medications – grabbed my hand and with the merriment of a child said, “Becca, I did crow pose for the first time today. I feel amazing. I never thought I could do crow!”
(If you are not familiar with “bakasana,” Sanskrit for “crow pose,” it is a challenging arm balance in which you first place your palms on the mat from a squat position and then rest your knees on your triceps as you tuck into a ball and balance. Yep, it’s quite the party trick.)
The empowerment she felt from the pose emanated from her whole body and I, too, felt like doing a mental celebratory cartwheel. I mean after all, it’s exhilarating to accomplish things we never thought possible, right?
Though the practice of yoga is not by a long shot only about the asanas, or postures, yoga is about those “aha” moments when we learn life in general is a celebration of what we can do, not a frustrated hyper-focus on what we can’t (especially at the time).
This concept of peace within in Sanskrit is called “santosha,” or contentment.
It should be noted there is a difference between complacency and contentment. Yoga does not promote sacrificing self-growth for simply settling.
Instead, yoga encourages us to love who we are and take that self-love and challenge that haunting voice that tells us we cannot do something.
I’m not talking about pushing our bodies beyond our physical limits. I mean resisting negative thoughts and emotions like fear or insecurity – a.k.a. our mental or perceived limitations – and continuously achieving attainable goals.
It should also be noted that no one is “bad at yoga.” I hear that one a lot and it always perplexes me.
Because yoga invites you to consider so many wellness facets like breath, mindfulness and kindness (just to name a few), we are all always working on some piece of the puzzle that will ultimately enable us to feel more physically and mentally vibrant.
For example, after playing goalie for several years and repeatedly injuring my left knee and ankle, standing balancing poses are extremely difficult for me.
Rather than trying to continuously advance a pose flexibility-wise, I put my love and energy into advancing my “dristhi,” or concentration on a focal point. My goal is to one day do “vrksasana,” or tree pose, with my eyes closed and my “drishti” directed inward.
Know that every time you step onto your mat, you too can achieve feats you once thought impossible. You too can feel limitless.
Becca Edwards is a wellness professional, freelance writer and owner of b.e.WELL+ b.e.CREATIVE. www.bewellcreative.com. This article is provided in collaboration with Jiva Yoga.