Earlier this week I had this photo pop up on my Facebook feed from about seven or eight years ago. It was taken at a beautiful dance studio, at the university where I was studying Chinese Medicine, in China. I was teaching a yoga class and was feeling on top of the world.
Seeing this photo reminded me of that feeling. A feeling of a personal victory and a deep knowing that I can succeed in doing whatever I choose to do. I can be the person I want to be.
Growing up I was always dancing and flexible and physically capable, but in my late twenties when I picked up yoga, I could not do a headstand. I tried and tried but just couldn't.
It made me feel frustrated and as if I wasn't as good as I thought I should be.
I finally decided to give yoga a real chance the year before I moved to China for a couple of years. I already had plans to leave, so I figured that the best way for me to go about it was to really immerse myself in it on that year that I had left in Israel.
I signed up for a yoga teacher training and bought a yearly pass to that yoga studio.
I kept telling myself that I'm not doing this to become a yoga teacher, besides I had a career in Chinese Medicine in front of me. I was doing it so that I could learn as much as I can about it and be able to practice safely by myself when I'm in China. Basically what I was after was to have a self practice, and not have to rely on a yoga studio, particularly in a foreign country. But secretly I always wanted to become one of those people who stand on their heads first thing in the morning.
I never really believed that someday I would be one of them.
During the teacher training I never once thought that I will one day be teaching yoga. How will I ever be able to teach, if I can't even do a basic headstand?? I kept telling myself that, and in some ways it took the pressure off, and I felt like I was there purely for the joy of learning something awesome.
Every yoga class in that beautiful yoga studio in Tel Aviv ended with a headstand, and the instructions were always appropriate to your level. If you can do this, do it; if you can’t, then do less; if you can’t do that either, do that. So there was always something for me to practice, which will eventually get me there, if I keep coming back and do my practice :-)
By the end of the teacher training I was standing on my head, unassisted, far away from the wall, and happy to the core of my being.
This experience has taught me so much.
Firstly, to be happy with where I was at. It is all good, there is no competition, I am great just the way I am and still deserve all the love in the world.
Secondly, to have a vision. A clear picture, me on my head, of how I would like to be, maybe, one day.
Third, “Do your practice, all is coming”. I can’t even tell how many times I heard my teachers quote the grandfather of Ashtanga yoga. If you get there - amazing, if not - trust in your teachers, trust in yourself, keep showing up and be who you are today.
I was committed to my practice. I had payed for it in advance, and went to the studio three times a week. With studying full time and having a part time job. I loved it. That's the fourth thing I've learned - it's easy when you love it. When you love it - it is easy. Motivation is more available to you. I remember paying for yearly gym memberships in the past… but not loving it...
So my point is,
I found a place that was good for me. I felt it with all my heart, and I let myself follow it. I gradually started feeling better and better and better, so I came to trust in the practice and trust in the process. Until one day, when I was practicing a headstand by the wall in the studio, my yoga teacher had whispered in my ear “the wall will always be there“ and I just knew that he meant I was ready.
I moved away from it, and tada, what do you know? I did it!
I was so excited I actually fell over laughing.
By the time this picture was taken, I was already feeling very confident in my practice and in my ability to actually learn something new. When my friends approached me and asked me to teach them it all felt very natural and everything just fell into place.
My actual first paying yoga teaching job was at a chinese yoga studio, to chinese ladies who did not speak a word of english. I don’t even know how I did it, but it was fantastic!
Now when I see an inspiring photo or if I'm in somebody else's class and they're doing this crazy looking yoga pose, I know. I know that it is all good now, and I am wonderful just the way I am, even if I can’t balance on my forearms. And I know that one day I possibly could. I do my practice and all is coming. And I love it! :-)
Until this day, every time I get up to a headstand it fills me up with feelings of success and accomplishment and I feel super proud of myself.
Let me know if you wanna headstand with me ;-)