This month’s yoga pose is not really a pose at all, it is an inevitability that should be embraced in your yoga practice.
I recently attended two graduation ceremonies, and the focus of each commencement address was failure. In an era where there is an emphasis on successes only, what a great message for our youth. Don’t be afraid to try something new. Don’t be afraid to fail. In fact, go ahead and fail marvelously and make fantastic mistakes. After you fall down, pick yourself up and keep going. Inspired by this, I have modeled this month’s pose after the Sanskrit word पत्. the verb “to fall.”
Falling out of poses is something that happens in yoga. It might happen when you try a new pose you have never tried before or when you try to do a pose that is beyond your current strength or balance ability. A yoga practice is not about perfecting poses, it is about moving and challenging your body. If you never fall out of a pose, it’s likely that you aren’t challenging yourself enough.
I’ve shared a photo of me falling out of an elbow stand, otherwise known as Pincha Mayurasana(pin-cha my-your-AHS-anna) or Feathered Peacock Pose. Even though I fall out of it a lot, I still love it. Sometimes I do it with a wall behind me while other times, I just kick my legs up, hope I hover for a moment, fall to the ground, and then kick up again.
Sure I hope to build up the strength to stay up longer, yet, nailing the pose for the sake of nailing the pose it is not important to me. I still get the benefits of the pose even when I try and fall. When we care too much about perfecting our poses, that is ego-driven. Yoga is really about letting go of our ego. So, in this carefree month of July, I encourage you to let go.
Local favorite yoga teacher Lesley Desaulnier says that during her training, her teacher set a timer and instructed everyone to fall out of handstands for 30 minutes. You learn a lot by falling; you learn a lot by failing.
Play around with getting your body into new or challenging poses instead of believing or saying you cannot do them. Maybe you can’t, but that is okay. Yoga classes would be really boring if teachers only served up poses everyone had mastered already. It is good for one’s body and one’s brain to try to do something that feels foreign to the body. After trying again and again, maybe you will find the confidence, strength, and/or the flexibility to access the pose. That is a very satisfying moment. The moments in between should be enjoyed as well.
Have fun with trying to get into a pose you have not mastered. Enjoy the process of visualizing your body transforming over time in order to do it. Laugh a little at yourself when you fail and fall.
Summer is a time of fun. Take a break from the serious structure. Fall, fail, smile, laugh, breath and try again.