Excessive attachment to a goal robs you of your integrity. Honouring the journey allows you to stand in your full integrity every step of the way. In yoga, using all your drive to get to the full expression of a pose as quickly as possible robs you of the required foundation, strength and flexibility to hold the pose with integrity. The last two days have taught me this lesson more effectively than ever before.
Journey to Side crow
I have been working on my side crow for a few weeks now. Unlike its original iteration, crow pose, side crow requires twisting, hip levelling, leg strength and a lot of wrist control.
When I rushed into this pose a few weeks ago, my wrist buckled underneath me (not healthy!).
But yesterday, I dedicated a 45-minute home practice to cultivating the ability to draw strength up from the earth through my hands before even attempting side crow. Drawing strength requires firmly pressing your finger mounds into the earth and doming your palm upwards energetically (like a tiger claw).
In this home practice, I worked through downward dog, plank, chaturanga, crow, and uttanasana repeatedly with full attention on my fingers, wrists and upper arms. Only once that awareness was cultivated could I press into side crow from a twisted squat position. With absolute attention and mental stillness, I was able to use the strength of my legs against my forearm to press my legs into a comfortable twist and bring my hips a little further down for stability, which allowed me to hold the pose for an extended period of time. It took patience, dedication and building a mindful foundation to get into side crow with integrity.
Today, on the other hand, I woke up freaking out because my alarm hadn’t gone off and my favourite advanced yoga class was about to begin in ten minutes. Having had a rough week, I pinned all my hopes on my yoga class to save me from my own misery. I cried a little, threw my socks across the room as I was getting dressed, then pulled myself together long enough to get out the door and into the studio ten minutes late for class.
All I missed was the beginning seated meditation. But because I ran to the studio and was in such a poor state of mind, my whole practice was scattered and harmful in many ways. I was pushing myself too hard before I had the right preparation, I didn’t bother working with my breath, and, after attempting a half-lotus handstand, I came down hard on my left ankle and nearly fractured it. The shooting pain in my ankle brought me to tears in class as it dawned on me that my excessive attachment to the class rather than the practice as well as my aggressive overeagerness to prove myself in the half-lotus handstand almost injured me, and almost marked the end of my yoga practice for a while. I wasn’t honouring myself, I was chasing my attachments. I moved back into my downward facing dog and began whispering to myself my personal mantra, “I am in harmony, I am in harmony, I am in harmony.”
After that, I walked home determined to rededicate myself to honouring my body and my practice through a purifying re-centering ritual. First, I would apologize to my loving, supportive body for putting her in harm’s way without her consent. Second, I would practice again, by myself, in my home, moving with mindfulness and love without attempting a single advanced pose. I started my practice in cat/cow and found myself in child’s pose without a desire for anything else. So I stayed there, because it felt right. Then I sat up and bowed, thanking myself for my willingness to engage in such a simple practice.
There is such a clear difference between moving with integrity and moving with excessive attachment. Honour your integrity, fellow yogis and yogini.
May you move through the world in honour and integrity. May you be happy, may you be healthy, may you live with ease.