I started writing this blog because I believe wholeheartedly in the connection between fitness and life, and how challenging yourself physically can teach you valuable lessons. Lessons that go far beyond how to look good in a bikini or dead lift 50 pounds. This mind-body connection is helping me to grow and discover my potential, and I want to share the experience. Because my guess is that this is universal: isn’t everyone searching for their best self?
I notice little moments all of the time in which the mind-body connection crystallizes. I like to think of these as Stretch Moments … small lessons or aha! experiences that I can file away in my memory to refer back to when I’m at a crossroads or challenging moment in life. Basically, anytime I need to stretch myself past my comfort zone.
The other day, I was doing a really inventive YogaGlo class with awesome teacher Chelsey Korus. The class was focused on “counting down” from four (as in limbs) to one. So as you can imagine, by the end of class there was a lot of arm balancing!
When we got to two limbs, we worked on mayurasana, or “peacock pose.” This is a really challenging pose for most people, including me. But in this practice, in addition to starting with our feet on blocks to baby-step into the pose, Chelsey imparted a little gem that really resonated. She said:
“I want you to use the blocks and lean so much forward that it feels like you’re going to tip your blocks over. Because the thing about mayurasana is that we don’t just lift the limbs off the floor and hope that it’ll be right … like we can’t just remove two limbs and think, ‘oh, it’s gotta work!’
It’s actually that we need to find so much stability in the hands, that we lean past our fear — reach past our fear — even though we’re thinking, ‘the only thing that’s gonna catch right now is my face,’ and that’s scary. But we actually have to go there to find the balance.“
Here’s Chelsey’s (strong, steady and perfectly aligned) version:
And here’s my attempt with slightly more, ummm, room for improvement:
It may not be perfect, and I was only able to hold it for about 3 seconds (eventually I’ll work up to 30), but until this week, I wasn’t even able to get my feet off the blocks. And it wasn’t for lack of strength, it was because I was afraid … specifically, of smashing my teeth into the floor. But once I leaned past the fear, I felt the seemingly impossible stability click into place, and the pose came together.
Lesson learned: sometimes you need to risk falling on your face — in this case, literally — and trust in the necessary, though often uncomfortable, learning process if you want to create something beautiful. Whether that something is a yoga pose … or a career, or a relationship, or a better life.
And that’s my Stretch Moment for the week.