In yoga, we preach self-love and acceptance. We discuss loving your body and releasing any judgment or ego before you ever step on to your mat. Easier said than done.
As most of you know, I have wrist issues. Serious wrist issues. They’re improving (MUCH better than they were a month ago), but when they first flared up it was miserable to do a down dog let alone a handstand or arm-balance. I’ve become so accustomed to using my hands, that for about 5 days I didn’t practice at all. That’s a hard thing to admit. I would wallow in self-pity, and tell myself I couldn’t practice because I couldn’t do one of the most basic yoga postures.
By day 6, I realized I was being ridiculous. I had become so attached to certain postures that when they were taken away from me, I just stopped all together. That’s silly. That day I rolled out my mat and stretched my legs. The next day, I did a little bit more, and then a little more. About 4 days into it, I was doing a complete yoga sequence without the use of my hands!
I had played with the idea of teaching a no-hands yoga practice, but had ultimately decided that was ridiculous – students wanted to use their hands! Then I went to one my favorite yoga instructor’s (Catie Coon) classes. Her class was completely focused on one of the 5 Yama’s – Ahimsa.
Ahimsa, one of the cardinal virtues that is taught through yoga, is non-violence, non-injury, and no harm. What really struck a cord with me was when Catie discussed practicing ahimsa on your mat. Releasing ego, releasing attachment to a certain practice or postures, and doing what your body needs rather than what your ego wants. I decided that morning I would teach a no-hands practice that afternoon. What I wanted to convey to my students was to not be so focused on certain postures when you cannot physically do them, don’t quit practicing. Do what your body needs. Practice some self-love. When I told them we weren’t going to be doing any down-dogs, I wish you could’ve seen the suspicious looks. Throughout the practice we discussed releasing ego, letting go of attachment and judgement, and how we are often our own worst critic.
All said and done, I think they thoroughly enjoyed it. I had a few of them tell me after class that it was really eye opening to see how much they “cheat” with their hands, or that they were going to start incorporating a “no hands” practice regularly. One of my favorites was a girl who told me she wasn’t going to come to yoga that day because she had been having a lot of trouble with her elbow. She was so frustrated that she wasn’t able to practice like she normally would, that she was going to sit it out all together. I was so thankful she came and we were able to talk about modifications she can make going forward.
Do you say things about yourself or your body that you would NEVER think about saying about someone else? I know I’m guilty of this. I work on practicing self-love and self-acceptance daily, and everyday it get’s a little bit easier.
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