July Yoga Pose of the Month
This month’s yoga pose is not really a pose at all, but an inevitability that every yoga lover should embrace.
I recently attended two graduation ceremonies, and the focus of each commencement address was failure. In a world that seems to only celebrate success, I thought it was a great message for our kids — don’t be afraid to fail, and in fact, go ahead and fail marvelously and make interesting mistakes. Then pick yourself up and keep going. It inspired me to model this month’s pose after the Sanskrit word पत्. the verb "to fall."
Falling out of poses is something that happens in yoga. It might happen when you try a new pose you have never tried before or when you try to do a pose that is beyond your current strength or balance ability. A yoga practice is not about perfecting poses, it is about moving and challenging your body. If you never fall out of a pose, it’s likely that you aren’t challenging yourself enough.
I’ve shared a photo of me falling out of an elbow stand, otherwise known as Pincha Mayurasana (pin-cha my-your-AHS-anna) or Feathered Peacock Pose. It is a pose that I did often and easily as a child so I am familiar with it, but I fall out of it a lot. I still love the pose and sometimes I do it with a wall behind me. Other times, I just kick up my legs, hope I hover for a moment, then fall to the ground and kick up again.
Sure I hope to build up the strength to stay up longer, but nailing the pose for the sake of nailing the pose it is not important to me. I still get the benefits of the pose even when I try and fail. When we care too much about perfecting our poses, that is ego-driven. Yoga is really about letting go of our ego. So in this carefree month of July, I encourage you to let go.
Local favorite yoga teacher Lesley Desaulniers says that during her training, her teacher set a timer and instructed everyone to fall out of handstands. You learn a lot by falling; you learn a lot by failing.
Play around with getting your body into new or challenging poses instead of believing or saying or you cannot do them. Maybe you can’t, but that is okay. Yoga classes would be really boring if teachers only served up poses everyone had mastered already. It is good for one’s body and one’s brain to try to do something that feels foreign. After trying again and again, maybe you will find the confidence, strength, and/or the flexibility to access the pose. That is a very satisfying moment. The moments in between should be enjoyed as well.
Summer is a time of fun. Take a break from the serious structure. Fall, fail, smile, laugh, breathe and try again.