This week I’m in Newfoundland so I’ve passed the review duty onto Georgia Skinner one of Halifax’s most popular emerging dance artists. An incredible match for this physical show with her interest in break and the ease with which she executes the most technically challenging work especially when it comes to flipping upside down.
What makes the impossible possible? Once in awhile we are presented with yogic riddles that just seem so far from reach. And yet, the demonstrator makes it look so easy? How does one manage to overcome that “impossible hurdle” pose to achieve the possible?
Stumbling Toward a Goal
In this quirky article Gregg Mcbride compares himself to zombies when reaching a goal. He makes the wonderfully gruesome analogy that we may be stumbling forward with set backs, (picture zombies limping forward with a haphazardly falling apart body) but we just have to keep going. I certainly felt limited when trying to do the jump back and jump through from staff pose to plank pose in Kevin Dougall’s class at Shanti Hot Yoga the other day. I kind of sighed, shrugged and decided I would give it a shot. As I landed back from downward dog into seated position I plopped in a startling display of clumsiness. I looked around with a quiet chuckle but was actually quite proud of the attempt, even if it wasn’t even close to the Cheshire Cat smoothness Kevin had demonstrated.
Practice. Practice. Practice.
Have you attempted crow pose or half moon, maybe handstand but just can’t seem to get that balance? I approached Kevin after class to talk about the struggle I’d had with that particular move. He talked about the importance of just rehearsing your breath and how that makes a difference in your sensitivity and core strength. From the small detail of pulling your intercostal muscles upward at the top of your breath, strength will build immensely allowing for more lift and alignment.
In her blog post about grounding she stresses the importance of bringing a sense of play and curiosity to your practice. This is really important. I’ve been able to do a headstand since I was a child, but handstand has been a real challenge for me as I try to get past my notion of its’ diffficulty. The way children approach difficulties is with joy and curiosity rather than skepticism. Watch the video with this new perspective and see how it changes your motivation to try the “impossible”.
Layer upon layer we lighten up, whether it manifests in our body, or better yet, in our hearts and minds, never forgetting the added element bringing in a sense of discovery and curiosity in the process. -Laruga Glaser
As we continued our conversation we turned to handstand. He pointed out the sensitivity that it takes to find the balance needed in your hands. Similar to the jump through where the sensitivity helps you find alignment. Having awareness of where your body is in space helps slow down the process for your mind. As practice occurs, the body will develop more kinaesthetic awareness and a sense of where the joints should be placed. So if you practice good alignment then your body will automatically fall more naturally into good posture leaving your concentration to other things like squeezing your core to lift you. Sensitivity in your body is minute. Tiny adjustments take place in the core, hands, feet and skeletal structure, receiving information from the nervous system to get you in position for balance, strength and agility.
I love how Kevin talks about yoga. He is passionate and understands that the process takes time. He brought up mindfulness and offered this example: when you’re in a difficult pose the mind will often take over. When that happens the awareness of you body turns into thoughts and the focus and sensitivity helping you find your pose is suddenly lost, leaving you to fall out of it. We’ve all experienced it: pushing up into headstand and all of a sudden you’ve found that sweet spot! Your mind starts bragging about how awesome you are or you go into panic mode “Don’t lose it don’t lose it don’t lose it!” Then…..ohhhhh, there go the feet unable to fight gravity any longer. As you become more connected with the practice of breath the art of sensing over thinking will become more natural. Interested to know more? Here’s a great article from the American Psychology Association on mindfulness and sport.
So while the zombie analogy works well to help work towards “possibilizing” your goals, it’s important to be very much alive, alert and connected while attempting to master the next pose. Just don’t get too bent out of shape and remember that each moment practicing will inch you closer and closer. One day it’ll feel as though you’ve always been able to do the “impossible”.