14 Years in the Making
So this little number here to the left is called Peacock Pose. It is certainly not simple and not one to just go try for the heck of it. You've got to be pretty warmed up in all the right places, so please do go dashing off to give it a go just because you're curious. I've been practicing Hatha yoga for about fourteen years now and from time to time the instructor will say "And now, Peacock." To which my mind responds, "Oh, my God. I HATE Peacock." Yes, it's true. My mind is as human as anyone else's.
In all of my fourteen years on the mat, I have never accomplished anything that looks like that picture over there. The most I've managed to do is get my hands underneath me while resting my head and feet on the floor. And while I have willed and imagined myself floating effortlessly away from the floor, nothing has even budged.
However, I do not allow this fact to define my yoga practice. I consider myself an experienced practicioner even though I haven't mastered this move. I know this ability or lack there of does not define me, my spirit, my attention to my poses, or the benefits of my yoga practice. I am not "less" because this pose has not manifested in my body.
This past weekend I was away on my annual yoga retreat and in one the very first classes this pose came up and along with it came my regular sound track in my head. "Ugh, not Peacock. I HATE Peacock." As usual I tell my brain to hush, and my body to try with no expectation that anything will happen. I approach this pose the way I do all others when I am in a class. I listen to the instructor's directions, I breathe mindfully, and I notice what happens in my body, where I feel things, without judging the results.
On this particular occasion, the instructor had us begin with our knees bent and the feet touching, much like a butterfly position, with our heads on the floor. She said to ground our hands down into the floor. Now, when I hear that direction in regard to my feet, I push my feet really hard down into my mat. When she said to ground the hands, I pushed my hands really hard down into the mat. Then she said to lift our heads. So I did...and my head came up off the floor! Then she said to lift our legs. It couldn't hurt to try, so I lifted my legs and they came up too! For a few seconds I very wobbly floated my head and bent legs a few inches up off the floor. Whee!
This was the first time anything like that had happened for my body in fourteen years of trying.
Many times some of our newer Yoga Flirt students tell us they don't think they should move on to the next Level because they haven't mastered all of the moves yet. If I had waited to master Peacock to further my own yoga practice I'd still be waiting!
Yoga is not about the moves or the poses. To me a more experienced practicioner is someone who can participate fully with their attention to what is happening, to turn inward and feel and breathe, to experience a moving meditation, and to let it go when it's over, whether the pose or move happened or not. This does not mean give up trying the physical stuff, rather keep trying because it's fun and interesting and it gives your mind something to focus on. Plus, you never know when the day will come that your body and your brain communicate and ta-da, the pose happens.
I'll keep working on Peacock. Maybe in fourteen more years I'll get higher off the ground and my legs will get straight. Or not.....