We are almost finished with our challenge, but we are definitely not finished being fearless. Tomorrow’s pose is Supported Shoulderstand (Salamba Sarvangasana). It’s a relaxing inversion that can be tough on your neck if you don’t treat your body with care. If you feel neck pain during this pose, please stop. Only attempt this after sufficiently warming the neck muscles. Bridge pose or slow neck rolls from side to side are good preparatory poses here.
If you have neck tension, you may find it beneficial to add a thick folded blanket under your shoulders as seen here. Start by lying on your back with knees bent and feet on the floor. Pull your knees into your chest and lift your pelvis. Here is where you can bring your hands to your back to steady yourself, but your core muscles should be sustaining the bulk of your weight. Leaning on the hands can cause wrist pain. Using your core, pull your chest to your chin. Then, you will be in kind of an egg shape. If this is good, stay here. When you feel steady, push your feet toward the ceiling. Start by holding here and breathing for just 30 seconds.
This is one of my favorite inversions, and I am still in the process of completely straightening my body. One of the challenging aspects of being a modern yogi is the tendency to get hung up on the superficial appearance of a pose. I can look at a picture of myself in Shoulderstand, and I can notice all of the so-called flaws. I see imperfect alignment. I see cellulite and extra weight on my body. Even after all of the progress and strides I’ve made, I sometimes want to be like one of those famous Instagram yoga-lebrities: Beautiful, flexible, perfect. I know deep down that I can only be myself. I only can have this body in this moment. I can only be on this journey. I can only be what I am. To want to look or be like something else, is to rage against myself–my existence.
My very first hot yoga class was at a studio in Fayetteville. I remember on the wall it said, “Come with what you have. It’s enough.” At that time, I had never heard of such a concept. I was mesmerized. I still think a lot about that sentence, and how it started me on this whole yoga journey. I have spent my entire life trying to be or look like what was right. All of that time, I simply had to accept that I already was enough. There is a lot of struggle involved in being someone else. I already am myself. It is all I ever will be. All that’s required is presence, awareness…fearlessness.