Monday, August 6, 2012

Finding My Fierce Warrior

This past weekend I attended a workshop with Sadie Nardini at Asheville Yoga Center. Sadie is a big name in the yoga world and calls her perspective on yoga: Core Strength Vinyasa. She explains:

"Together, my Principles and Poses simplify how to access, comprehend and use the “core” most efficiently to gain the maximum yoga benefits (calorie burn, strength, flexibility, focus, self-awareness, confidence...) in the least amount of time.
Because of its multi-level actions, and focus on constant core connection, Core Strength Vinyasa Yoga is one of the most effective yoga practices for sparking major changes both inside and out. "

Sadie has multiple free yoga videos on youtube with titles like, "20 Minute Super Weight Loss/Core Strength Flow"and "Root Power Flow". These titles scared the crap out of me. I'm a gentle flow, yummy stretching kind of gal. Give me a pigeon or low lunge over a hand stand or plank any day! This is exactly why I signed up for this workshop. I had gotten comfortable in my practice, and although being comfortable is great, I had lost sight of my "edge".  

In yoga, you often hear the phrase of finding or playing with your edge. It's that space where you start to feel challenged, but are not pushing yourself into a painful or dangerous position. I was gravitating towards a gentle, stretchy style of yoga because, one: it feels so darn good, and two: it's mostly what I've been teaching these days. My personal practice had begun to mirror my classes. In yoga we use our edge to grow, and I wasn't growing. Not only that, but in yoga we also try to work towards balance. Yin (poses held for longer periods of time) and Yang (dynamic practices like vinyasa). We get benefits from either practice, but we get the most benefit when we practice both. Lately, I've been a little lopsided in my practice.

I came into the weekend pretty sore from a CrossFit workout I had participated in earlier that week (this is a whole other story, but as a helpful hint: don't wreck your quads days before you plan on participating in a vinyasa weekend). I was stiff, but ready to be challenged. We met Sadie, who is down to earth, funny and lovely, then got down to learning about what core strength really is and how to incorporate it into our practice. I won't try to explain all of Sadie's principals, but I highly recommend checking out her website and videos. Two hours later, I drove home feeling energetic, still sore, but excited about everything we had learned. 

Saturday was two more sessions. One entitled: Flying from the Foundation and Core and one called: Transform Your Transitions. This is where things started to deteriorate for me. Let's just say, I wasn't doing a lot of flying. At this point, my body was getting tired and my mind was getting frustrated that I wasn't able to do some of the asanas. During our last savasana, I found myself falling into some negative thoughts. 

"I can't do these poses. If I was a real teacher, I'd be able to do all of these poses. How embarrassing, one of my students is in this workshop! If we're doing a whole session on flying it seems like I should have been able to do something! I thought I was going to walk away from this weekend able to crow and hand stand like nobody's business." 

Then, it hit me like a bolt of lightning. Duh, of course I can't do these poses, I don't practice them! How unfair of me to expect a teacher to teach me, in six hours, to effortlessly do poses I rarely ever practice. These are asanas that require that you practice, challenge yourself and build strength. I hadn't been doing any of those things. Sadie gave us plenty of examples of poses and exercises to help us start to "chip away" at the final big pose. She provided tools for us to use to play with our edge, but I had gotten so focused on what I thought I "should" be able to do that I glazed over that part. It was the perfect reminder that in order to get where you want to be, it takes time, it takes patience and it takes work. 

That night, as I got ready for bed, I caught my reflection in the mirror and thought "What is that?". I had bruises under my arms, both right and left. I'm not someone who bruises easily, and although I am clumsy at times, I couldn't remember hitting my arm or running into anything that would have left a bruise. Suddenly, I realized why I had bruises. They were from trying my arm balances (although obviously with poor alignment if my knees were on my arms). They were my proof that even though I hadn't achieved the beautiful balance I dreamed of, I had at least tried. And that's better than most days! I proudly showed my husband and told him that I was bruised because I was a fierce warrior. He congratulated me and took my picture the next day. My husband is awesome. Sadie is awesome. I am awesome. I am so thankful that I was able to re-connect with that part of myself and I'm working on not losing my edge any time soon!