Guess Who Can Levitate?

Me! I can levitate! Kidding. But I can do something exciting. I can actually hoist my fanny off the ground for lifting lotus! Lifting lotus is about what it sounds like. Sit in lotus, and lift yourself off the ground (Levitate!). But seriously, you’re supposed to lift yourself off the ground using your fingertips. I know. That’s the hard part. I found a video that offers some techniques to help learn lifting lotus, but she doesn’t actually do the posture like I would need to for competition. Still, it could be helpful.

I loved this posture from the very beginning when I started it back in the summer. However, my number one problem with it was building finger strength. My fingers simply were not strong enough to do this posture well reliably. But now I am determined to resolve that issue and start working on it. I’d love to do it in competition next year. So, for the record, the two advanced postures I’m currently working on for competition are this and crow. That’s about as fancy as I currently get.

If you’re interested in learning lifted lotus, and need to build finger strength, I have something to recommend. Actually, this would be good for any posture that requires you to have finger strength. Last week, I purchased the Gripmaster (see also here). The idea is that using the gripmaster will strengthen your fingers.

I had no clue what tension level to buy. You can buy 3, 5, 7, and 9 pounds. I thought my fingers seemed pretty weak and bought the three pounder. I probably could have bought the five, but my pinky fingers are very weak so for them the three pound was a good investment. These things are inexpensive so upgrading to a higher tension isn’t really an issue.

I used it every day for a week. The website said I could do three sets of 10, and I am doing two different finger exercises daily. After a couple of days I tried lifting lotus. It was eh. I didn’t really go that high. A couple of days later, same thing. Not much going on, but I knew I needed to be patient. Honestly, I was willing to give this thing one month before I packed it in.

Today, after using it everyday for a week I tried lifting lotus again. Boom! I went up off the ground. I didn’t do it well or shoot up super high, but I did go up a lot higher than normal. Wondering if it was a fluke, I did it again. Nope. Back up I went. Then I did it a third time. Then my fingers were tired so I had to stop. This is not a posture you can practice a lot. As you can imagine, I am excited that I have found a way to strengthen my fingers.

For now, I’m working on building finger strength and simply coming off the ground. Once I get that down then I’ll start to really work on height and overall form. I’m hoping to get this posture down and in my bag of tricks. It’s a fun one!

Competition Struggles

You didn’t forget about the upcoming yoga competition did you? It’s coming! November 4th. How many days away is that? Wait, don’t tell me. I don’t want to do a countdown.

I’m managing to somehow not be nervous about getting on a stage and doing postures in front of God only knows how many people. Part of this I attribute to the fact that I have plenty of experience speaking to groups of people. Yes, I teach classes at UNC that require me to get up in front of adults, but that’s not what I mean. Those adults are my students. I know them, and knowing them makes it easy to get up and teach them.

Several times a year though I give talks or workshops – ranging from 20 minutes to one hour to five hours – in front of mostly strangers. These events have had as few as 10 people, probably average between 30-50 people, and have had as many as 200 and 1000 people.

When I first started giving talks I was terrified and probably was medicore at best. I am sure I gave some real stinkers. But now I’m good at it. I don’t get nervous anymore. I stand up, talk about my work, discuss it with whoever wants to, and have a good time. The only way I reached this point was by getting up again and again and again and continuing to talk to people I didn’t know. I don’t remember when it started to get easier and more enjoyable. It just did.

I think about this set of experiences in relation to the competition. If I get nervous, that’s normal, but maybe I won’t be that nervous at all. The only thing I can do is get up on the stage and do the postures. They will be whatever they will be.

I have struggled with the idea of doing mountain as one of my advanced postures. When Joseph was in town, he went over everyone’s advanced posture with them. When he found out one of mine was mountain his exact word were, “You’re doing mountain? You’re brave.” That’s not what you want to hear the international yoga champion telling you. He told me I needed to be able to balance on my knees for at least a five count. I said I could sometimes do that. If I did mountain five times I could probably hit a five count once. He said I needed to be able to do it 9/10 times. I get his point. I agree with his point. My mountain is unreliable.

Also, what Joseph was supposed to do was show me a super secret trick to keep me up in mountain forever. I’m sure he’ll be getting back to me on that as soon as he figures it out. 🙂

I don’t have to do mountain. I can do spider in it’s place. For spider, you sit in lotus. Then roll forward on your stomach (stay in lotus). Press your hips down. Put your hands on your back in prayer. Then push yourself back up (stay in lotus). Never leave lotus. I can do that, but I like mountain so much more. I still practice mountain, and I’m toying with the idea of doing it anyways and just seeing what happens. I’m not going to win this competition. It’s not like I’m struggling to make a decision about something that’s super important here. But I also don’t want to get up in front of everyone in mountain for a second and then come crashing down on my butt (which technically could happen) when I can do spider and be safe.

So that’s the real struggle. Do I do a posture I love, but am not 100% strong in, and risk smacking my butt down with a bang on the floor OR do I do a posture that I think is ok, but that I don’t love, and it totally doable?