Here’s To Small Successes
by: Krista Blakelock, Prenatal Yoga Instructor
I’m exhausted this morning and am trying hard to think positively about going to teach mom and peanut yoga. Reluctantly, I decide to be nice to myself and take the bus instead of walking to the clinic where I’m going to be teaching allowing myself an extra 15 minutes to rest. Unfortunately, when I get to King Street I’m reminded that half the road is dug up and bus routes have been diverted so I’m back to walking to the clinic, 15 minutes behind schedule. I mentally kick myself. Being late is something I always feel guilty about, especially in this case since I was being “lazy.” As I hustle my way to the clinic by foot, I start thinking about the word “Failure.”
People often tell me that they “can’t do yoga…” followed by a wide array of reasons. They’re too busy, they’re not flexible, they don’t know how, they have injuries…
Behind all the excuses though, I imagine we’re really trying to mask our fear of looking silly, and of failing at what we intend to accomplish. If this is the case then the problem is not in the action itself, the concern is actually with the intention, the goal. If someone who has never taken a yoga class and has limited flexibility believes she has to be able to forward fold and touch her toes, as well as know all the weird Sanskrit words and sequences the teacher will use then she has already failed. However, if she is able to set a different intention she may be surprisingly proud of herself. Perhaps her intention ought to be: show up for one class and aim to forward fold her fingertips to her knees.
Robert Pirsig similarly states in his novel, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, “An experiment is never a failure solely because it fails to achieve predicted results. An experiment is a failure only when it also fails adequately to test the hypothesis in question, when the data it produces don’t prove anything one way or the other.”
I arrive at the clinic, 10:28. Technically I’m not late but I still feel bad since the moms are there waiting. Unrolling my mat I look around and see a one year old, three year old and an 8 week old babe. Suddenly “Failure” takes on an entirely new meaning. The one year old is climbing up onto a yoga block, smiling in delight and jumping off. Occasionally she wobbles off and tumbles to the ground, only to hop up again, move the block into a different position and try again. Sitting down on my mat, mom’s following suit I ask them to set their intention for this practice to notice the successes they can find in each pose. It doesn’t have to look like what I am doing, in fact they don’t even have to be in the same pose as me. If they are feeling awesome in one posture and smiling, stay there. If it feels icky, adjust yourself and find a new way to get comfortable and smile again.
I watch the one year old wobble and topple, while maintaining the most precious smile and think, that maybe we can only learn new boundaries to our potential and soar, by falling flat on our faces first.
krista blakelock, robert pirsig, yoga blog, zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance
By: Krista Blakelock – Inspired Yoga Teacher | Birthing Expert | Kitchener Doula, Avid Traveler
I see him glance over at me for a second time. He’s trying hard to focus on the basketball game playing on the television behind the bar, but he’s looking over at me completely perplexed.
I figure I should help him out.
“You’re at a bar watching television, I don’t care for sports so i’m doing this instead.”
“But you could do that at home,” he retorts.
“You could watch basketball at home too.”
He hesitates; commercials come on and he looks back at me, “So? Why would you come here to knit?”
Shockingly, not all people who knit are crazy cat ladies with agoraphobia.
“I just finished work, I like wine and occasionally talking to people at a bar is pretty cool,” I tell him.
“Last week a group of eight ladies came into the bar that I work at. They all ordered a beer and then pulled out knitting! They stayed for like, five hours!” He tells me.
From a servers perspective I totally understand the frustration of having a large part of your section taken up by people who are not spending a lot of money. It limits the amount of tips that can be earned and the amount of tables he can serve throughout the night. However, not all women who knit have apartments that would comfortably host eight friends, their bags of wool and needles. So, I decide his evil eye towards my speckled blue wool is not because he believes knitting to be terrible, but because of the tips he missed out on a week ago.
Personally, I don’t like to knit in big groups. Maybe with one or two other people, but typically i’ll knit alone. It is a way of grounding myself, and at the same time challenging myself to maintain focus on my breath, relaxation in my shoulders and proper posture through my spine. Sounds strange but if my body is hunched up and tense, the stitches in my wool become tighter making the subsequent row difficult to knit. So, in a way knitting is like a yogic practise to me.
In French, the verb “to knit” is “tricoter.” In Sanskrit, triangle pose is called “Trikonasana.” For some reason my brain made this connection and while practicing a flow sequence involving triangle I decided that this pose felt like my knitting meditation.
A triangle is formed between the knitting needles and the stitches. Similarly the legs form a triangle with the ground creating a sturdy base from which to lift up the torso and create space for breath and length in the spine. When the upper arm lifts towards upwards the third arm of the triangle is created connecting my body from the ground to the sky. I always feel at peace when I am holding my core, aligning my shoulders and really rooting my feet down into my mat.
Growing a knitted piece takes patience, alignment and attention. Stitches may slip off the needle, I may misread a pattern, or lose a stitch and some days my fingers and brain just don’t want to communicate. On the mat, trikonasana requires the same virtues. Patience to support weight and resist pressure, attention to breath and to alignment.
Furthermore, in chemistry a triangle is used to represent “change.” Reflecting on trikonasana I believe that my breath is able to facilitate change throughout my body, mind and heart. The triangle between my knitting needles is constantly changing a raveled ball of yarn into a functional piece of something. Currently, I’m working on a headband for a lovely lady who wants to live in a hobbit house, with a garden rooftop and a distillery in her basement. Bringing us full circle, or more appropriately: Complete triangle, back to why I am knitting in a bar…
A glass of wine after work, a knitting project and a bit of time to reflect on my breath, body and heart feels like the perfect thing to do in a bar on a Monday night.
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breathing exercises, doula, knitting and relaxation, knitting and yoga, krista blakelock, triangle poses, trikonasana, yoga poses, yoga postures
By: Krista Blakelock – Inspired Yoga Teacher | Birthing Expert | Kitchener Doula, Avid Traveler
After participating in my first yoga class in 2008, I was immediately hooked. I loved the focus required, the quiet space that I could go to within myself and also the challenge. I admit I was not the “zen hippie” that people perceived when I spoke about my new found love of yoga. When I was in a class I truly felt that I should push further, hold the pose longer, fold deeper and do the most extreme variation of the options demonstrated; but within, my mind was never sincerely connecting to my body. My practice has changed a lot over the years and so too has the connection I feel between mind and body.
In 2012, working as a doula enabled me to practice yoga in a very different way. Mom’s who were active prior to their pregnancy were asking me for options so that they could keep their body moving without too much intensity. Other women simply wanted a way to relax and lengthen out their backs and chests, and stretch their hips. Showing clients various poses took me for a loop. When I taught, I was incredibly attentive to alignment, depth and length of breath, their changes from week to week and how steady they could be in a pose. Moms were so happy to do shallow lunges and feel blood and oxygen pulsing through them and to baby. I was in awe of how content and proud they could feel even though in my personal practice, they technically were not in Virabhadrasana, Warrior 1 pose.
I continued with my own intense practice, but would teach clients slow, flowing sequences. My observations of how great they felt when they did supported hip rotations, neck and shoulder rolls, and a modified Surya Namaskar was reinforced week after week and slowly I began giving myself the same allowances to slow down. The real difficulty for me was to be still in a pose and convince my mind that it was totally okay. Allowing my body and mind to come into alignment and really soak up the benefits of a pose has had incredible benefits and I have to believe enables me to teach more honestly.
I regularly return to the quote by Richard Bach, “You teach what you most need to learn,” to remind myself how important it is to marvel at my breath, what my body does for me each day and how it feels to really connect with the sensations and changes within. Today, I am thankful for each mama who has brought life into the world, because through my interactions with them I have been able to come to life within my own mind and body in a very new and vibrant way.
doula, krista blakelock, pregnancy and breathing, pregnancy tips, Richard Bach, stardancing doula, surya namaskar, virabhadrasana, warrior 1 pose