I failed today. My efforts fizzled, went up in smoke, came to naught. I suck.
That’s where I went today. I’m a pretty bendy chick, and I love trying funky new yoga poses, even though there’s no way in hell I can do certain moves—yet. I could do backbends all day, and I’m working on Eka Pada Adho Mukha Vrksasana (and I really like saying it). But what I’m really talking about are super tricky strength poses. The stuff that looks freakin’ impossible. But I try anyway.
Ever heard of Pavritta Bhuja Dandasana? It’s my new obsession. I need to master this mother. If I had a bucket list, achieving this pose would be on it, but I don’t like bucket lists. I think they’re boring. And unrealistic. I’m probably never going to meet the Dalai Lama, or summon up the guts to cut my hair into a mohawk—yet.
So I’m in class today, and the teacher is hanging out in a handstand while he’s giving alignment points for That Which I Obsess On, Dragonfly Pose. All the while I’m wondering how he keeps talking with all that blood rushing to his head. I wish I could tell you what he’s saying, but his words are completely lost on me while I find myself genuinely fearing for his life. He goes on, like a Talking Tina doll, seemingly completely unaware he is upside down. You know those wacky Ashtangis and their bandhas.
As I sit on my mat and look around the room, one yogi after another is smoothly and effortlessly finding their Dragonfly Pose, like a bunch of Lululemon-clad circus freaks. Not one to be intimidated, I take my right leg over my arm and try to dig my shoulder underneath it while I find my breath. I’m digging and breathing, and I’m fighting for it, like there’s a slice of chocolate cake to be had in the end.
Now I know how Rocky feels.
Rocky Balboa, Philly boy, boxer and leg-breaker, is unceremoniously plucked from obscurity and given the chance to fight the World Heavyweight Boxing Champion. No one really thinks he can go the distance with Apollo Creed—no one ever had. Besides, it was just supposed to be an exhibition fight. The big event arrives and, amazingly, The Italian Stallion lasts all 15 rounds. Adrian runs toward the ring, and her red beret falls off. Spoiler alert: Rocky loses.
Why is this so awesome? Because Rock, even though he has fears and doubts, reaches deep inside and finds the strength to do something everyone thinks is impossible. But he’s a warrior, and he goes the distance. Is he a loser because the split decision goes to the champ? Not even close, because he walks through his fear and gives it every single ounce of blood and guts he has.
Yoga asana is like that. It’s an epic battle every time we get on the mat between the false identity and the True Self. It’s never about the physicality, it’s the intention behind the asana practice. So what if I didn’t achieve the pose today? There is a bigger picture here—the end of suffering. Freedom from karma. Enlightenment. And a hard body.
I don’t remember my first headstand in the middle of the room, or the first time I pushed up into Urdhva Dhanurasana. But I never would have done it if I never tried. It ain’t that deep. Fight for it, warrior. Then lay the ego aside and surrender to the outcome. The beauty is, if you can remember this, you cannot fail. And that doesn’t suck.
I love a good underdog story *cue Rocky theme*. I’ll be in yoga class, working on That Which I Obsess On, Dragonfly Pose. I’m a fighter.
Gonna fly now.
Anne Clendening was born and raised in L.A. and spent most of her youth at the beach, dreaming of becoming a Charlie’s Angel one day. A yoga teacher, a writer and kind of a dark little hippie, Annie is especially inspired by the poets and the writers who lived it up in San Francisco and Paris in the 60′s, Pink Floyd and anything chocolate. She writes about her life at www.mysweetyoga.com. If you’re not easily offended, her darker thoughts can be read at www.dirtyblondeink.com. Oh, and she endlessly adores her hot Aussie boyfriend.
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