If the road is where I go to achieve, then the mat is where I go to relax.
Running is very goal driven. When I start a run I typically have a particular distance or pace(s) in mind. My objective is to achieve them.
In yoga, I practice to feel centered, to stretch, to build balance and let go.
So when I see an improvement in my practice, it isn’t something that I have trained for the way I have when I see myself advancing in running.
I’ve never walked in to a yoga class telling myself, I’m going to take side angle with a full bind tonight!
And maybe some people do. Maybe some yoga practitioners go to class with an agenda of sorts, aiming to kick up in to headstand or leap forward in to side crow.
It’s fine if they do, but that isn’t how I practice.
I trust my body to take me through the postures in the manner that feels comfortable to it during that particular class. When I feel safe to do more, I try more. If my body resists, I pull back; if it responds favorably, I push deeper.
Over the last few weeks I have been trying something new. I always used to step forward into forward fold, but now when instructors give the option to jump forward, I jump forward.
I have had at least a semi-regular yoga practice for the past six years, I have good core strength. So the way I see it, I have no excuse. Attempting the jump forward is something that I am more than capable of at this point. If I don’t do it, then perhaps I am limiting my practice.
In the half dozen or so classes that I have tried this out, typically my feet make it about half way from the back of the mat to the front of the mat, and then a do a quick step-step to get the rest of the way.
Last night was different. Last night when I bent my knees, engaged my core and jumped forward, my feet actually landed right in between my hands. In that mid-air moment before landing, I felt like I was flying, but I also felt so much in control.
Having practiced now for so many years, and not daily, it’s been a while since I have seen a real advancement in my practice. So last night felt very special to me.
For the rest of the class, there were times when I landed perfectly and other times when I had to do the step-step. I think it is perhaps because I was overthinking it.
But now I know, I can jump forward. So it is something that I don’t plan to shy away from again.