No, I can’t do that. Actually, maybe I can. Hey! I can do it!

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I’m not really sure how to begin this post, except to say: these ideas that you have about what you can and can’t do, the things that are too hard or to big to begin – often these ideas are formed in a time of perceived failure. We don’t think to ourselves Oh, right, maybe I am not ready to do that yet, or maybe if I try that a different way it will work, or maybe I need some help to do that, or even let’s sleep on that and try again tomorrow. 

No. We are not so forgiving of failure in our magnificent selves. Instead we think things like Oh crap, I can’t do that, it’s too hard, what was I thinking? I am not strong enough, clever enough, creative enough, disciplined enough, anything enough to do that very difficult thing – and I probably never will be.

I say ‘you’ and ‘we’, but really I mean ‘I’ and ‘me’. All my life I have been telling myself these kind of things, and believing them too. No, I can’t do that, No, I don’t like that, No, I’m no good at that. No, no, no. Yes, I am a stubborn bull who says No a lot. An awful lot.

I’ve had a few experiences in the last six months where I have had opportunities to challenge myself to do things that I have always wanted to do. Opportunities have arisen to say yes instead of  no and I have taken them. Those of you who have been reading my writing for a while know that I had an opportunity to be a beta reader for Kara-Leah Grant’s book 40 Days of Yogawhich in turn inspired me to do my own 40 days of yoga. Which I did, and as a result of that, I have my own daily yoga practice, something I have wanted for years. I had an opportunity to go to a writer’s group a month ago, which inspired me to start 40 days of writing. I’m on day 26 now, and I have written over 13000 words.

It’s funny though – it wasn’t really these events that woke me up to what was going on;  what the 40 day process did is open my eyes to the internal dialogue and self-defeating process that goes on inside of me when I do new or challenging things. So, I’ll tell you a little story, a yoga story if you will.

So I am doing yoga at home most days, but something is bothering me. There is something missing from my practice, and I know damn well what it is – there are no inversions in my sequences. No headstand, no shoulder stand. I know how important they are – they are the king and queen of asanas, and for good reasons too. I have very good reasons why I don’t do them - Oh, I can’t do these poses because I need specific, expensive props that I can’t possibly justify right now, because I am not strong/brave enough and I don’t really want to/need to do these inverted poses. 

Still, I am nagged by the thought that I want to do headstand, I need to do it - how can I do it? I read this article on preparatory poses for headstand, and I think to myself ok, I’ll have a go. I talk to my mother about my desire to do headstand and she says Oh I have this pad that I found very helpful when I was younger and wanting to do headstand – do you want it? Yes I do – anything that will help. The next day, with the help of a chair to put my foot on, and a little foam pad I am up in head stand! Yippee! I love headstand! I feel so strong and brave!

I see Gretchen, a friend of mine who is a second generation yoga teacher at a BBQ lunch on the weekend. I tell her about my success with headstand, and she says to me Great! I hope you are doing shoulder stand to balance the headstand. Oh crap. Shh! I don’t like shoulder stand I say. It makes me feel fat and weak I say. I need one of those special shoulder stand chairs like we have in class I say. Gretchen laughs and says I need to do it, because the feminine shoulder stand is needed to balance the masculine head stand. I know this, but…

Anyway, I go home thinking about it; more and more I am on to myself, and more and more I am sick of the same old crap that my brain tells me. So I think to myself - there are probably other ways of doing a supported shoulder stand other than in a chair. I’ll google it. 

Supported shoulder stand

Right I think, I can do that. 

So I do this supported pose for a couple of days, lifting one leg off the wall at a time. I think to myself Yes, I can do this, and it’s ok, although I can’t imagine being able to do it properly.

The next day I lift first one leg away from the wall, and then the other, like I have been doing. I felt strong, so on the spur of the moment I took both legs away from the wall – and went into the straightest, strongest shoulder stand I have ever done. I held it for 30 seconds or so, came down and just lay there for a moment. And thought to myself I can do anything I want to – I just have to start from a place that I feel comfortable in, and go from there.

How good is yoga?

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23 thoughts on “No, I can’t do that. Actually, maybe I can. Hey! I can do it!

    • Ah yes. plow pose. the old me would say, I don’t like to do plow pose, I feel like my tummy is all squashed, and I can’t breathe. It’s uncomfortable! The new me says I will have a go at plow pose after shoulder stand in my yoga practice today! Thank you for reminding me :)

  1. I am so impressed with you!!! WOW!! I know what you’re saying is true but it’s so hard to do. I think you have to REALLY want it bad. Yoga seems like an exercise in patience and faith. It looks like you have both? :)

    • yes, I have both :) I don’t know how badly you have to want it – it’s just a nagging sense of discontent, like there is something missing. Truly, I have never ‘wanted’ to do head stand or shoulder stand. I like my feet on the ground very much. It’s almost like…these things wanted me rather than the other way around. i could also say the same thing about writing and a daily yoga practice, and definitely about that other hard thing to do – motherhood. I don’t think I am explaining myself very well here, because as usual i am thinking as i am writing…writing, yoga and motherhood, the most wonderful things in my life sought me out, rather than the other way around :)

      • I totally get what you’re saying. It was like the next natural step in your life – all of those things. They pulls us rather than us thinking/intellectualizing about them and making a decision. It’s not mechanical, it’s a natural extension of who we are meant to be. :)

      • exactly! Going with the flow, with the natural next step rather than artificially constructing a plan and ploughing along regardless…we understand each other I think xxx

  2. This is the same experience I had! I always told myself I just couldn’t do things like cartwheels and flips and headstands like other kids and now adults in yoga…until I started to actually try. It took a few weeks of daily practice until one day I found myself in a supported headstand without even using a wall to get there! And now I think about that every time I say I just can’t do something. What a great lesson in the power of our own thoughts.

    • lol yes that’s right – until I actually started to try! It makes me wonder what else there is that i could do if i stopped telling myself that I can’t…

  3. Lakshmi Loves To Shop

    A headstand! Wow well done! I always thought I couldn’t play in a band then 5 years ago I joined our local brass band. Today I marched and played down the main street for Anzac Day…dreams can come true if you stick to your resolve (just like you did). And it’s true that once you can do it you can’t remember when you couldn’t :-)

    • Gosh, I was looking and admiring the marching band at the service i attended yesterday and wondering how on earth they march, play theor instrument and read music without falling head over touche. Big kudos to you, very impressive! By the way, what do you play?

  4. I’ve really struggled with head and shoulder stands for years. I can do both, but I often end up feeling injured after a head stand. I feel strong going up, and while I’m there, but then I always tweak something. This is a great post, in looking at what our inner voices tell us and how we can challenge that.

  5. Rufina

    So inspiring. I don’t do either of those poses (and many more). Reminding myself of a fridge magnet I saw recently “I can only do one thing at a time, but I can avoid doing multiple things simultaneously!”. This is wonderful to read about how you can still get there, one small step at a time. What a great reminder that it doesn’t have to be absolutely perfect at the start. What matters is that you try…so I will try a supported pose. I can do that. xo :)

  6. So inspiring Sara…I have just started Yoga myself after having wanted to do it for years and reading this post comforts me in the idea that I can do it, it is just a matter of giving myself the chance. Wishing you continued energy to brave your way further every time. Good luck :-)

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