Think for a moment about something that you cannot do. Something you have convinced yourself is beyond your capabilities and talents. Something just available to others.
For me one of those things was inversions, so head-down poses in yoga. But we each have many, some legitimately rooted in physical differences, but far too many rooted in beliefs about ourselves.
What do you tell yourself about you?
From early on in life we have learned to accept that there are things we can, and things we cannot do. We believe we are bad at math and good at languages. We believe some things are possible in life only for others.
We tend to remind ourselves daily by telling how we are not flexible, how we could never travel around the world alone or how we could never go after our true dreams.
Yoga is often full of these beliefs, as yoga does shine a light on our shadows. As I said, I used to be pretty convinced that I cannot do inversions. I used to be good at it, as a child, climbing trees and making up monkey-clubs, but not anymore. It’s too advanced, I thought, and even after some Yoga Teacher Training I would avoid inversions. I tell people I cannot, until one person asked me: But do you practice them?
Practice makes progress
We often forget that there is this thing called practice which stands between us reaching our goals (or toes).
In life it’s all too easy to look at the final goal or dream, and conclude that it’s way too far! Before even starting it’s easy to say “I will never reach it, it’s impossible” and carry on without even trying. It’s the same with yoga. You see someone effortlessly standing on their hands or lifting their legs into a pose that makes you feel hopeless inside. As if YOU could ever…. So you don’t even show up for practice.
In coaching we work with this concept a lot. The beliefs that we have about ourselves, our capabilities and our options in life can either help us, or hinder us. The old saying is true: whether you think you can, or you cannot, you are right.
It took me more than a year to reach down and touch my toes. It took me years to drastically change my life around. It took me two years to go from a place of crying-mess-scared when underwater to a proud PADI Rescue Diver.
Things don’t happen without practice, and they don’t happen without dedication. They also don’t happen if you never start, or if you compare yourself to someone who has been practicing for 10 years while you are on your first 10-times yoga card.
Think about it, everything you do today, you had to learn. Walk, talk, read, write… and all those things took time.
The prep poses of life
In yoga we rarely try to throw ourselves into the final pose. At least, we should not. There is an understanding that before you can attempt to even try the final poses, you work on the prep poses. Before you can comfortably hold the prep poses, don’t try to be a hero. This is how you will get hurt, and your progress will take even longer. The prep poses are there to get your body (and mind) ready for the final pose.
So we can take small steps often. Number one, show up and practice. Try it, try something new, just take a small step and see what happens. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
How are my inversions now? Although I am not standing on my hands yet, after finally practicing my prep poses, one day I just rose up to a headstand. It was just as incredible as I imagined.
What is it that you wish you could do, but what makes you tell yourself “oh, by I cannot do that….!”