The word of the day is...Dedication

SASY (my yoga home) has a promotion where once per week, a specific class is discounted if you bring in a certain word written on a piece of paper. (For the Boston yogis that read this blog, you should friend Sweat and Soul Yoga on Facebook and enjoy a $5 yoga class one time per week. That's basically free!). Today I happened to be attending the "secret word" class so last night I pulled out a piece of paper and wrote it down and stuffed it in my yoga bag:


And I didn't really think much of it, other than to ponder how I almost felt like I was robbing someone to pay $5 for a 90 minute class with Alex. This was the first week for this as a basics class, it had previously been a power flow vinyasa class and it was great! Surprisingly, I find that basics classes are almost always more difficult for me - because they require a discipline in truly looking at your form and not trying to go to where you normally would go as far as options. Case in point: Side arm balance. When Alex asked everyone to put down a knee when I normally don't - there was a tad of "ugh, really?" running through my head and some internal dialogue to myself that I really just needed to work on having both legs up and one of them in tree. But I did put my knee down in time to listen to what he was saying about alignment. I moved my shoulder over my wrist - and surprise, surprise - I could get my hips up further and my leg was stronger when I went up. Forget learning asanas - I need to learn how to listen!

But really this is all just lead-up background for the fact that today was more about dedication than I ever thought.

I had planned to work on handstands with Alex after class. I have a very healthy fear of a few things in yoga: falling out of anything (getting hurt), falling onto anyone (hurting someone else), and handstands of any kind. As I was explaining to my husband today, the daunting challenge of handstands makes me feel 10 years old again - the only kid (it felt like) in the entire class that couldn't do a round-off or a cartwheel. I was never coordinated, never graceful, certainly not a ballerina or a gymnast. The 10-year old me and the 30-year old me were pretty CERTAIN that Abbie + Handstand = not so much.

I am a fairly driven person - which I don't want taking over my yoga practice and which yoga has helped me to calm a bit. I use my yoga practice as a means of developing patience and stillness within myself (and ideally I'm taking this off the mat as well). I try very hard to push away thoughts of inadequacy in poses and slowly, surely learn them. I try not to force them or muscle into them. The only drawback of this method is that it is relatively slow - and that really isn't even a negative :o). The true benefit is that if you are DEDICATED - then when you arrive in the pose - finally - there is something truly special about the path you took and how you feel in the pose. And usually, you have better form.

So standing at the wall today, explaining to Alex that: "We should really level set with the fact that this really scares me" and "this is going to take awhile" - I thought that I was going to feel really good about today if I went up with his assistance.  Leave it to Alex to boil it down quickly: "I know your practice. You're strong enough."

And he was right. I was strong enough. 18 months in the making. Every push up, every plank, every downward dog, every ounce of dedication - led up to my first ever, on-my-own handstand at the wall. A real one. Standing on my hands.

I didn't feel like I had reached nirvana or that I was viewing the world through my third eye.

I felt proud.

This is harder than any big presentation at work and maybe even my two marathons. It was letting go of fear and trusting that I really was a different person in terms of strength of mind and body. This was so big. And I was so proud.

So here is the secret to handstands apparently: shoulders further over hands and look in front, not behind.  When I went up by myself for the first time today, I really wish there had been a camera - because I think my whole heart was smiling. And it caught me by surprise. It was suddenly so much easier - I was so much lighter.

There was a camera in my kitchen this evening:

I didn't want anyone thinking I was a one-hit wonder! This is the face of a happy yogi:

You have to trust yourself.

And you have to trust your teacher. Thank you, Alex. Many, many, thanks.

-Grateful Yogi