On Sundays, please enjoy the Retro Throwback where I share my favorite posts from some time ago.
It’s hard to show up to yoga class with no expectations, and yet this is what is encouraged. Just come to class, experience it, take it for what it is. No two classes are ever the same. All of that makes good sense. Cognitively, I understand it. Actually doing it – very hard.
For example, let’s go to one of my favorite poses: Standing forehead to knee. I can kick out my left leg and lock my knee. I can hold this position for a count of 5 or 10 seconds. I can sometimes kick out my right leg and lock the knee. I cannot hold it for very long when I do.
When I first started kicking out my left leg (which was May 2011) I was super excited. I knew, I just knew, that by July I would be touching my forehead to my knee. Ok, maybe August. But surely by August. By the end of the year I would definitely be touching my forehead to my knee and holding it there all the time. I would be rocking it out. I knew that. I fully expected that. It was just a logical conclusion. And, to be clear, I was only thinking this about my left leg. I knew my right side still had a ways to go. See? I am totally reasonable about my postures.
I got derailed a bit when I was thrown off a horse in June and cracked some ribs (I’ll write more about that in a future post). By September though the ribs were healed and I was totally kicking out again on the left side. Ok – I am a few months behind schedule but I will catch up.
Fast forward to today. I can still kick out with my left leg, but I am not putting my forehead to my knee. I am holding it longer when I kick out. I can however feel this amazing stretch going down the back of my legs. I think my brain may have gotten ahead of my body.
So when will I put my forehead to my knee? That used to be one of my main goals in yoga. And I can now answer with 100% confidence that while I would LOVE to accomplish this, ultimately it does not matter when it happens. It will happen when it happens. This is not a life or death situation. There is no need to rush it, and I couldn’t rush it if I wanted to. My body will do it or it won’t.
I could be disappointed that I am still not putting my forehead to my knee (I will admit that I have felt disappointed before). OR, I could just enjoy noticing the changes that are happening to my body during this (or any) posture. I think I will enjoy the ride.
The lesson here, for me, is this: Too often my brain gets in the way of my enjoyment in life by creating goals for me to achieve. Goals are not always bad, but they are also not always necessary. Sometimes what is necessary is letting go, paying attention, and being in the moment. When I go to class without expectations, I stand to gain so much more happiness and fulfillment than when I go to class expecting/wanting something. Too often I won’t get what I wanted which can result in anger or unhappiness, and in most cases I am not going to get anything out of being sad and angry. I would say the same is generally true for life. When I go about my day expecting something should happen I stand to be disappointed and miss the beauty of simple, everyday things because I was too busy waiting for something I was sure would happen.
But, if you ever see me get my forehead to my knee in standing forehead to knee please know I am cheering very loudly on the inside. I am not expecting it, but I am hoping for it someday.