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February 9, 2020

The Stories That Keep Us Locked in a Box

A few days ago I was in malasana at my yoga studio down the street, a crowded room of sweaty, 102 degree bliss, halfway through a flow that feels like dessert to my body after a long run.

From malasana (yogi squat) we were transitioning to either crow or handstand hops. I usually play with crow variations or go into headstand or forearm stand, because handstands are not a part of my practice — I don’t have the arm or shoulder strength necessary.

At least, that’s the story I’ve been telling myself for the last couple of years.

But on this particular day, I thought I’d try. Just for fun.

So I hopped.

Aaaaand I didn’t come down.

At least, not right away.

When I did, I thought it must have been a fluke so I did it again. And again. Aaaaand, again.

Controlled hop, hover, controlled lower.

I paused during my next chaturanga, noticing in the mirror in front of me the strength of my arms, the muscled lines of my shoulders and upper back that didn’t used to be what was reflected back at me. How long have those been there? 

There’s not much purpose or usefulness to handstands beyond the fun aspect — which definitely counts for something. However, there is extraordinary usefulness in identifying stories we’ve told ourselves and committed to that are A) outdated, B) not true, or C) holding us back. And that is the magic of what happened on my mat that day. The rest was just play.

It’s something I’ve been thinking about ever since. How long has my body carried the strength to move that way? What else is it capable of that I haven’t even bothered trying because I’ve told myself it’s “not in my practice” or that I lack the strength? What other stories am I telling myself about my life that aren’t true? Stories that maybe were true at one point, but that I’ve now outgrown?

What stories do you hold about yourself that might be outdated? And what amazing possibilities are you keeping yourself from as a result?

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