The day had come when I demo’d an arm-balance pose in class and it went south. Head smashing into the ground sort of south. Crumpling into one’s shoulder and rolling sideways sort of south. Students asking if I am okay sort of south.
If this would of happened to me as a new teacher, I wouldn’t been able to collect myself and finish the class with any sort of style or grace. The shame and embarrassment would have been tattooed on my face. You know how over-sensitive and fragile you are as a new teacher.
But, I am not a new teacher anymore. I am also not in a hot flashy yoga town full of freaking far-out-amazing yogis. Nor, does my arm-balance/inversions series cost 45 dollars (or much more at a yoga conference) like Kathryn Budig or Brock & Krista Cahill (who are amazing by the way, and worth the money just to stare in awe at their beauty).
Nope, just me. Little ol’ me in my awesome little town, full of real, earnest, down to earth, ready-to-learn students.
I am not trying to prove much as a teacher anymore. I am just a mom who has been painfully humbled by my children, humbled by responding to their constant needs and demands, no matter how trivial or brain-numbing they may be.
I am also someone who has some strange misfortune (karma) that has landed me with the world’s most poopiest kids. Between running to one end of the house to wipe a butt, to finishing cleaning up after the baby’s poop, to running into the bathroom to wash my hands for the zillionth time, then repeat it three or four more times a day. This combined with the dumping the cloth diapers into the washing machine and drying and putting them away, sometimes I feel like my day is but one of poop. (Which reminds me, I need to put the cloth dipes on the rinse cycle when I finish pumping out this post. No joke.)
So, after a day of poop, it is refreshing to get out of the house and talk to adults about how to do some fun yoga poses that require lifting both your feet off the floor and balancing on your hands and maybe your head. Not only is it refreshing, but such a honor and privilege. Especially when I watch others struggle to learn the poses I demonstrate. I realize how blessed I am that I have never struggled with arm-balances or inversions.
That is why landing on my head while demonstrating flying pigeon pose the other day sent me into laughter. Because, quite frankly it was funny. It was like watching America’s Funniest Videos when the dad trips head over heals hitting his nuts in the process. It is just not supposed to happen. And it is funny.
I advised my students at the beginning of the three class series to try hard, but try harder not to take yourself too seriously. Laughter is good medicine. It helps you recover more easily.Kristin Olson in Flying Pigeon Pose by Jasper Johal
In more yogic terms, laughter helps to bring you back to your center, or safe place/comfort zone. When are rooted back in your center, then you can go on to try new things with renewed strength again. Otherwise your attempts will be tainted with emotions like anger, shame, self-doubt or fear. If there is a group of poses that do not bode well while harboring strong emotions in them, it is arm balancing and inversions.
When your mind is unbalanced with emotions, it is really hard to balance on your hands or head. These are poses you really want to attempt with a clear head, or you might literally land on your head (like me).
It is a metaphor for life I suppose. It teaches you to clear your head before doing something difficult.
That is why I love arm-balances and inversions. They help you let go of the emotions that are holding you back. Like for me, it isn’t fear, but ego. I have been learning (the hard way) to just let go and enjoy. I guess I just needed perspective (thanks poop karma).
Arm-balances and inversions help us to find their inner physical and mental strength. Once you got that, the bliss is finding that sweet softness and surrender of a challenging pose, so you can experience the lightness and effortlessness.
I loved teaching this class. I have so much to be happy for—even the simple pleasure of having a body that is still able to do yoga, and a mind is still in tact to teach it.
Even if that means falling, while demonstrating a pose, hopefully with an iota of grace, head first. Crumple. Roll. Laugh.
It happens. It is funny. I am not perfect. I am not the best. I still got embarrassed. It’s just that I am able to see through it. Recover.
And hopefully by falling, I inspired my students to try and be okay if they fall. Get up, try again. That is what I teach my children too. Keep trying that is all you can do.
So my blog readers, and my yoga students, that is all I can do. Keep doing yoga, teaching, writing and loving myself and others for all that they are, accidents and flaws and our beauty.
(off to finish off those cloth diapers now)
Samantha King is an Indiana-based yoga-teacher and full-time mother of two young ones. Her kids keep her on her toes, but she wouldn’t trade it in! She is co-leading a weekend Prenatal Retreat in Indiana this summer. You can read more about Samantha’s multi-facided spiritual journey at http://thedomesticyogi.blogspot.com.
Editor: Hayley Samuelson.