The other night, I was lost in the mesmerizing world of photography, browsing from one photographer’s site to another, basking in the stunning photographs, the art, the creativity. Then I watched a short video of a photographer’s journey through his career. During the video, he said, quite simply, “Winter always comes.“, referring to the doubts that set in his mind about his own skills as a photographer every winter. This coming from an extremely well-known master in his field made me wonder why we as humans feel the need to compare ourselves and measure up to others. Why can our own standards of living and being not be the absolute measure of goodness?
Theme of the Yoga Flow Series #4: Building a strong, indefatigable inner core to keep the body warm and the heart strong when doubts set in with the arrival of winter.
Winter always comes. And so it does. I always forget how the cold feels against my skin, how the sun shines less during the winter, and how the days are brutally cut short. It is not yet winter. But December foretells of its coming. With it, perhaps the blues set in, and we feel less excitement about life, less encouragement about our goals and less conviction about our purpose. The bleak of December at least has Christmas and New Year celebrations to contend with but what of January and February? What massive stroke of effort and power one must employ to battle those doubts, and silence them before they take over, even for one day. It is too long to wait for spring. It is too much defeat not to enjoy winter, even for those of us in least favor of colder temperatures and climates.
The inspiration from Kathryn Budig’s workshops still tugging at my heart, I wanted to create a mini-flow to overcome the onset of these winter blues. Knowing the enormous rejuvenation benefits of inversions, and combining it with one of my favorite inversions, I settled on mini-short flow on variations in a headstand, Sirsasana. As for the background music, I played the instrumental version of one of my favorite pieces as a little girl, with a title which translates roughly to “King of Hearts (Soltaneh Khalb-ha)“. If only I could then see myself now…..
The 3 Lessons from Yoga Flow Series #4:
1. The body re-setting expectations of the mind: Once again, I find that the ideal series I had planned in my mind did not come together. Not today. Not even with a few tries. What I had visualized was staying in Sirsasana for about 8 solid minutes, and adding 4 more variations to the video than what is shown. No way, my body said. The lesson is quite brutal. Your body is the boss of you, not your mind. Your body will let you know when to push and when to pull back. And under no circumstances, will my body do what my mind tells it to do, until the right time. My headstand was cut short, and I exit a bit less than gracefully. Yet I post humbly the video of this short sequence, because it was done in a spirit that I wanted to share.
2. Breathing deeper, slower, and longer in inversions is key: Slow down the pace of your breath and make it deep and strong. You need to engage your core more than ever in an inversion, and breathing will establish that. Listen to your breath, be aware of it and adjust it accordingly.
3. Fear of Falling Down can be overcome by falling a lot: When I first wanted to balance on headstand, I knew I cannot learn to do it in class. I would be too embarrassed if I fell. So I proceeded to do so at home with no less than 4 large pillows on each side. I fell many times before I learned to hold it. But I needed to let go of the wall and I needed to stand on my own head and face and crush this fear. Coming to terms with the fact that is alright to fall and more importantly, learning how to fall, you can begin to let go of the fear. You will know the exact moment when you feel the pose enough to let go of wall support, and it is a moment worth living for!
Parting Inspiration: Shifting perspectives can help silence doubts and re-establish self-trust. It can shift your paradigm and allow you to gaze into that problem from an entirely new angle. Who knows! It may just be the angle that gives light to the solution.