Friday, May 22, 2015

New Tricks

It's a litte embarrassing, in some respects, to admit how long I've been taking yoga.  Embarrassing because in all these years, I haven't gotten much better at it.

Sure, I've improved my alignment, developed (and lost and developed and lost) strength and balance. But I hit a plateau a while ago that I haven't bothered to do anything about.

Like anything else, you have to practice in order to get better at what you know, and you have to have someone teach you things you don't.  And when you don't go to class very often, and you don't have a good home practice, there's not much hope for you.

I've been thinking lately about how I miss learning new things.  I put a lot of mental energy into my job and my family, and sometimes I find it hard to think outside of those boxes.  But I know that it's possible: I have plenty of positive role models, even among friends, people who have taken pottery classes and picked up quilting and wrote novels and trained for marathons.  And I'm not an old dog yet.  It's true, I can read more CSS code than I used to.  And I can read more French than I used to.  And I've been practicing my headstands, ever since last summer, though I haven't yet succeeded to get myself upside down in the middle of a room.

I went to a yoga class in town last night.  Not the studio where my favorite teacher practices (which is, sadly, a 20 minute drive and only really do-able on occasional weekends), but someplace local that I can walk to.  Everyone in class seems to know each other, which felt a little weird.  And they talk through the entire class period, which is also a little weird.  But I like the teacher well enough.  She's down to earth, and has a good sense of humor.  And last night she told the class to do flying lizard.

Which apparently everyone knew how to do but me.

Flying lizard starts, predictably, with lizard.  (That's lizard, at the left, courtesy of forteyoga.  Looks easy enough, right?  Only it's not so easy once you've been stuck there for about two minutes.)

Then, you crawl your forward leg up around your shoulder (or put your shoulder under your forward leg), and you bend your other arm to support the other half of your body, which is going to fly as you lean forward just a bit (at right).

The model at right is not leaning forward.  But I was.  Because I don't have that kind of core strength.  Go, model.

At first, I wobbled a lot.  I fell over.  I decided there was no way in hell that my back leg was going to float off the floor.  The woman next to me, who was older and looked--on first sight--like she was less in shape than I am, did it beautifully.  And then assured me that if I did it again, I'd be able to do it, too.

I wasn't going to try it again, but something about her assurance poked me a little bit.  There was still time.  Why not try again?  And then everyone was looking, and up I went.

Then the teacher told us all to practice fallen angel (devaduuta panna asana).   Starting with a side arm balance, you allow your cheek to rest on the ground, stretch one leg to the sky, and fold the other up to your straightened leg.  Not trivial.  But I gave it a shot, and managed not to fall over immediately.  The second time, I got my leg up in the air.

It was a wonderful feeling, doing something new.  I'd forgotten.  And yes, as my husband pointed out, parenting involves learning something new every day, but there's something about this kind of learning that feels different.  Good.  Measurable.

(Now I just have to get myself back on the mat again before another month goes by.)

What have you been meaning to learn?  What have you taught yourself lately?
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  1. Wow, that's quite a pose. Good for you!

    I know the feeling about not taking the time to learn new things. I was passionate about learning music as an adult for a while. I still enjoy it, but I'm not putting the time into getting better. I do feel a bit sad to admit I've plateaued, but in the big picture I know why I've made trade-offs so it doesn't bother me much. But it does feel good to add a new, tangible skill or accomplishment sometimes!

  2. Oh, this makes me wish so hard that we lived near each other. To encourage each other.

    I can do flying lizard (not as gracefully as model) and have never tried fallen angel. I'd want you to be there whispering you cans to me.

  3. I struggle with lizard itself so not sure I could get myself flying.

    I taught myself two new computer languages, one of which I now teach to kids. I feel a little embarrassed when I still need to slide my notebook out of my purse to look up the syntax of certain things (which I had to do this weekend). But at the same time, I'm so proud of those notes. I went from knowing nothing about computers to being able to code video games. That feels like an accomplishment.


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