Lessons From the Mat



And then she flips the grip. (This is yogi language for bending your back while holding your hand in such a way that it deeply opens the shoulder and stuff.)

This pose may come easy to some bodies but, backbending has not really been my thing.  I don't get how people say it brings more air to your lungs. I used to feel like I could not breathe. I was not okay with my heart being so wide open and unprotected.

In the beginning of my practise, I had a hard time accepting that. I thought it was a matter of training and discipline. You can use training and discipline in yoga, for getting into handstands and for developing strength, but it is a different story when it comes to releasing. Because backbending in a way is the exact same as heart-opening, and that is not a story of willpower, but rather one of surrender.

So like all new and eager yogi's, I had yet to learn the powerful line between effort and ease, control and letting go, determination and patience. I injured myself and I paused. I would try again, try too hard and injuree myself again. Long story short, I started ignoring the backbendy stuff on my mat. But what you avoid tends comes back to you. I injured myself again by doing too much front body work now, too much standing on my hands without a release of the built up tension. The conclusion was: backbending needed.

So I did it. A little. A few stretches at the end of my practise to get it over with at the start. Only the yummy stuff, the juicy stuff. A little extra with no pushing, just slowly integrating it to my practise. Slowly figuring out what felt good where and how.

And today this felt yummy and juicy. So I flipped my grip. For the first time ever. I did not know my body was ready for this one. I did not chase this pose, I did not train or stretch specific muscle groups to get there, I did not research detailed alignment cues.  All I did was practise in a way that felt balanced and that met my needs from day to day. I stayed with felt good, and this brought me here.

I felt proud enough to take a picture to put it on social media, but most of all I feel proud for the way I got here. For what yoga has taught me and how I am still learning the lessons every day. For how this is a reinforcement of everything I try to do on and off the mat.

To stay with what is. To not be afraid to deeply want something without clinging to an outcome. To honor this body. To trust the timing of things. To let it all unfold. To achieve greatness without giving up pleasure and good feelings. To stay curious.To stay committed to the movement, the growth rather than to specific points along the way. 

It is because of that, I was able to flip my grip and bend this deep. It is because of that I moved to Barcelona. It is because of that I feel so fucking free right now and it is because of that, that I am proud.

Because again and again, I made the mistake of wanting to control development and progress in the beginning, when life works best when we just water or seeds and then sit back and let them grow while you sit back and enjoy the sun.

Open your heart, but do so gently.