When a Handstand isn’t a Handstand

I was listening to a podcast recently and the host and her guest are talking about the importance of a regular yoga practice. And I’m listening, nodding along like, “YAS! YAS! YAS!” And then the arrived at their point: We don’t practice yoga to get stronger/better/more flexible, we practice yoga to rewire our brains.

This notion isn’t foreign to me. In fact, it’s something that I talk about quite frequently. But the way that it hit me in that particular moment nearly knocked me on my ass.

I’m a very risk averse person. I always wear my seatbelt. I don’t like jay-walking. I do a lot of research before I go on vacation. I like predictability and control. But these past few months have thrown me into the deep end, and I find myself feeling lost and overwhelmed too much for comfort.

So I’ve had to ask myself: why do I feel so unprepared for unpredictability? And this truth has been a hard pill to swallow. I’ve spent so long playing it safe that I find it hard to function in a reality where my feet don’t touch the bottom of the pool.

And where this shows up for me in my practice is inverting. And before you get all “well, technically downward facing dog is an inversion…” I’ll clarify: I hate any pose where you are upside down relying only on your hands/head/forearms to keep you from breaking every bone in your body. (more…)

What the Thank Yoga Studio?

I talk a lot in my classes about habits and patterns that we create in our lives. And while some of these habits are worthwhile and healthy, like brushing your teeth, many, many, many of them are just filler. And this is where the magic begins.

I think about some of the lecturers I had in college, and how the monotony of their voices would make me drift off. Sometimes it was straight up sleep, sometimes a daydream, sometimes just the scary bowels of my overly anxious brain.  But in any of these cases I was never really present.

And this is how many of us are living our lives, lulled into a half sleep by the persistent monotony of our own patterns.

I was talking with a friend recently who told me a story about driving a car that was not her own. “My car has a back up sensor, so when I was pulling out of my garage I had no idea I was going to scratch the side until it was too late.”

My eyes got real big, not out of judgment or surprise, but more like: “oh girl, you know that’s what this practice is here for.”

But all of that is your work as a student. It’s your job to wake up. It’s your job to identify all of the knots you’ve created and begin the slow steady work of untying them. But then I come back to the question at hand WHAT THE FUCK IS MY JOB!?

We so often talk about the experience of yoga practice as a path or a journey. And for a long time I thought my job was to guide people down that path. But: A. People are theoretically at different points of the “path” and it would be impossible for me to meet them all in a 60 minute class. And more importantly: B. I’m not even sure this “path” even exists. (more…)