Don’t Perform. Practice.

I love teaching Crow pose to beginners.  Yes, it’s not technically a “beginning” pose, but I find that everyone can work on some aspect.  Maybe you can start by sitting in a low squat (even if you can’t do a low squat, you can practice lowering your squat from wherever it currently is).  If you can do the squat, you can work on holding the pose while lifting the pelvic floor and pulling in your abdominals.  If you can do that, maybe you can drop your hands to the floor and practice lifting your hips while keeping your triceps in contact with your legs. If you’ve got that, try your shifting your weight forward onto your hands.  Then, maybe lift a toe, maybe lift a foot, maybe lift both feet for a second, maybe you hold Crow pose and you didn’t even know you could do it because you made up your mind that it was impossible.

When I call Crow pose to some new yogis, I demonstrate all of those steps above, and sometimes my students give me this look I know too well. (Only because I’ve given it plenty of times myself.) They think I’m crazy.  They think it’s crazy to expect they can land this pose.  What they don’t know is never expect them to land the pose.  I just expect them to practice.  I expect them to get down and dirty, make faces, grunt, sweat, ask questions, get in there, and figure it out. Practice allows those two neurons in the brain that makes this movement possible slowly make their way toward one another.  It doesn’t need to happen today.  It may never happen.  You may even begin your practice and decide that you do not want or need Crow to ever happen.  That’s fine.  You will never know unless you start to practice.

Do you find yourself in class telling yourself that you can’t do something?  Well, you may be right.  Injuries or even differences in anatomy can mean certain body positions aren’t available to us.  I only ask my students to be aware of that part of themselves that is so afraid that it stops them in their tracks.  Maybe you are afraid of your own body sensations, looking bad, making mistakes, being upside down, losing control, or injuring yourself.  When you start taking your eyes off the performance and begin embracing the sloppiness of rehearsal, the fear can melt away.  You don’t have to be good.  Let yourself fall.  Save your perfectionism for a job interview or an actual stage performance.  Let it be the time you dig deep and explore.  If you do fall or make a mistake, it can be a great opportunity.  You get to feel the sting of not meeting your own expectations.  Yes, that sting can motivate you to get better, but we aren’t performing anymore.  We’re practicing.

Did you delight in what your body CAN do?  Did you play?  Did you taste even a hint of the joy of moving this physical form as it is in this present moment?

If yes, then you are finally practicing.

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