Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Lessons from yoga - It's ok to fall


You will have seen me fall out of Tree pose many times and that is not important.  What is important is not giving up.  My grandad was a MacDougall and the clan motto is 'Victory or death'.  While this is extreme for every day life, my grandad loosly translated it as 'Macs never bred a jibber' (someone who gives up easily)- who in the family would dare to be the first?

In our lives, fear of failure should not prevent us from trying.  It is only by trying that we get to know ourselves better, something that is key to yoga.  We learn what we are capable of, what is not for us and what we could be capable of if we practiced.  We become stronger in some way whether this is physically or mentally.  

Sometimes 'failure' is dependent on your viewpoint.  When I started this blog my intention was to generate an income doing something I enjoyed which would also help others.  Financially the blog has been a 'failure' BUT doing the blog has helped me through stressful periods and the messages I have had from people who tell me how much I have helped them tell me that in many ways my blog has been a success.

'Failure' is also an opportunity to practice acceptance and forgiveness.  It is important to separate the 'failure' from you as a person.  You are not the failure and you must not slide into the way of thinking that 'nothing I do is right' etc

Our video this week focuses on Tree pose which is my 'bete noire'.  To be 'successful' in a standing balance you need to work with three elements of the pose.

The first is alignment.  In Tree pose we need openness in the hips.  We also need to be aware that as we lift one leg, the centre of gravity of your body changes and to compensate you need to tune into your body and make adjustments.  Try shifting your weight to the outer edge of the standing foot.  You also need to be aware that when you press into the standing leg with the foot that is raised, you also need to be pressing back into the raised foot with the standing leg and never press the raised foot against the standing knee.  As you raise one leg there is a tendency for your butt on the side of the raised leg to stick out.  To correct this, lengthen your tail bone towards the floor. There are modifications for Tree pose - you can cup your ankle with the lifted foot or take the lifted foot to the shin.  Be honest with yourself about where you are today and be aware that one side may be different to the other.  

The second is leg strength and ironically the best way to build strength in the legs is ironically through standing balances!!  To this end we practice Tree pose with the 'comfort blanket' of a chair or a wall, 'testing the water' by letting go to see if we have the necessary leg strength.  

The third is attention.  If your mind wanders off while you are holding a standing balance, you will fall out of the balance.  You have to be present, be mindful.  Drishti, a gaze point is a 'tool' that will help with attention.  In Tree pose this is straight ahead or down at a spot on the floor. You also need to bring your attention to small adjustments that you need to make to remain in the balance.  

The benefits of Tree pose include strengthening the legs, increasing focus and concentration and stress relief and if you fall out of the pose it also develops your ability to be patient and not get frustrated and your sense of humour!!

Please see the yoga video on my YouTube Channel- 'Lessons from yoga - It's ok to fall'-https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TDzK25aMrbk

Namaste,
Janet x

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