This morning in class I noticed that Jessica, one of our dedicated 6am practitioners, had a really gorgeous Cobra pose. She is super flexible, especially in her upper spine. When I started setting the class up for Locust pose, Jessica went in for a third set of Cobra. This is not unusual, especially at 6am when people are just waking up. But I made a joke, "Jessica", I said, "No matter how gorgeous your Cobra pose is, you still don't get to do a third set."
She laughed and set herself up for Locust. "Wouldn't life be great" I thought out loud to the class, "if we could live our lives only doing things we were good at."
I've mused about this idea many times in my blog. Challenge, pushing one's limits, getting outside of our comfort zones..... This morning though, I thought about it differently. Jessica wasn't consciously doing a third set of Cobra. Her body just went there. Maybe her body went there because it was more comfortable there, happy there, with her bendy upper spine. My happy place is in Eagle. I get positive feedback every time I practice when I'm in Eagle. "It's because I have really long arms and legs," I think to myself when I hear the 'good Eagle' compliment, "anyone with long arms and legs can do this posture."
I spend a lot of time trying to cultivate a sense of acceptance when I teach. I spend a lot of time trying to find that place in my personal life too. Acceptance isn't just about acknowledging our limits in class (and in life), taking breaks when we need them, backing off in a posture if necessary. It's also about accepting our strengths, enjoying them, embracing them. Girls and women especially are well-trained to down-play their power. We brush off compliments, deflect that attention in another direction, make it not about us. Over the weekend, I went to a kids' Yoga training where I spent two full days with a handful of people pretty intimately. At the end of the two days, we each had to stand in the middle of a circle while people complimented us!!!! Our only instruction was that we couldn't reply, just receive. I wish I could tell you what these lovely people said to me, but I cannot because I was completely dissociated. Though I smiled and nodded as each person spoke, I could not absorb the words.
After class this morning, I checked in with Jessica, "Did that make sense?" I asked, "That adjustment about your upper spine being super flexible?"
"I'm flexible?" she clarified. "Very" I emphasized. "Thanks," Jessica said quietly. "....I guess. I'm super sore today." I wouldn't have thought for a second that Jessica was sore this morning watching her gorgeous strong Cobra. But maybe she needed to lessen the compliment. Maybe it was too much, the praise. I understand completely.
Jessica has the gift of flexibility and a beautiful Cobra pose. Her body wants to own its flexibility by doing a third set of Cobra. But like many of us, her mind hasn't caught up. As the mother of a daughter, I want to crack this one wide open. I know it starts with me. If I can figure out how to receive, to be open to accepting and embracing my strengths, that's what Lucia will learn. Like everything, it's a practice. As do many things in my life, this practice too will start in the yoga room.......the next time I do Eagle pose.