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.