Now that I’ve shed a lot of anxiety and lethargy I’ve been carrying the last week, I’ve pushed myself to push my physical limits while I practice. One of my hardest and favorite teachers, Sisi, consistently encouraged me to work harder during her classes. I especially appreciated how often she told us, sometimes during our most strenuous postures, “You are stronger than you think you are.”
That doesn’t mean we should pull muscles, break our bones, or hurt our bodies in any way. However, I do think we can always do just a little more than we think we can. Oftentimes the one thing holding us back from becoming stronger is ourselves.
In a B3 class with Sisi, she instructed us to do multiple exercises to practice for handstands. Most of them I couldn’t do very well. I thought more than once to myself, “I’m just not strong enough. I’ll have to wait before I can do this.” Because I had this mindset, I felt ashamed watching so many other students succeed where I was failing.
Maybe she noticed how much I was struggling, because, after a while, she had us pair with each other and conduct a small experiment. She instructed us to go into a plank pose and have our partner grab and hold our ankles. Sisi then had our partner let go of one leg while we tried to keep the released leg upright.
To my surprise, this exercise was incredibly easy for me. My legs and core were in great shape. After we finished the class, I told Sisi about my experience. She smiled and said that if I was that strong, a strong mental block and my fear of failing were keeping me from doing a handstand and other inversions. “If you don’t believe in yourself and your own strength, you can’t progress.”
I think it is vital for any yoga practitioner to take the time to reassure themselves they are capable of amazing things. Whether that means stretching an inch deeper, lifting the knees for plank, or even taking the time to be still in chavasana the principle is the same, even if the journey is different for each person.
Thank you for reading! See you tomorrow.