On Failing Yoga and Life

“I just can’t get headstand.”

“My side crow sucks.”

“My hips don’t move like that.”

When your practicing, there always seems to be a few poses that are exceptionally hard and simply impractical for your body.

I still can’t nail forearm stand or handstand without the wall. I struggle with backbends like Dancer. Bird of Paradise will never be effing easy. I can hold a crappy firefly pose for 2 seconds. 

I fail yoga.

^^Trying to switch the grip in Dancer. Keyword: Trying^^^

But when I see nothing but jaw-dropping arm balances on Instagram and impressive displays of hip flexibility, I look down and my mind starts to jump to conclusions:

Well, I must be a fake…any other yoga teacher could do that pose. Why won’t my shoulder move like that?! Am I not practicing enough? She can do that because she’s thinner than me! Wow, I suck. 

I can’t help but relate this experience to my life off my mat.

So many people that have graduated college with me have found jobs and careers… while I look down anytime someone asks me “What do you do for work?

After answering the question for the seventh time one weekend, I looked down, squeezed the bridge of my nose, then touched the back of my neck while answering, “Yoga teacher“.

If you’ve ever read a body language book or (like me) have watched Lie to Me one too many times, you’ll know that means complete s h a m e.

I graduated with an education degree, a Master’s degree. I tossed it aside to work on building a wellness business founded on yoga. If you’re anything like my parents, you would be shaking your head right now.

I look down in shame. My pride feels like I should have another label. My independent and ambitious mindset conflicts with the words coming out of my mouth, “Yoga teacher“.

Fortunately, I haven’t had to stress financially while my business is emerging. I’m spending my time experimenting. I’m making mistakes–falling over.

After people find out I’m a yoga teacher, here’s the 2-weeks later conversation:
Cindy Lou: “How’s your yoga business going?”
Me: “Slowly but surely…”
Cindy Lou: “Have you gotten any more companies onboard with yoga classes?”
Me: “I’m talking to some businesses right now…I did a free trial class last week…”
Cindy Lou: “Oh.”

Again, I look down. My pride hurts. Once again, I feel like I failed. I’ve plateaued. I have nothing new to report.

I read the book Grit by Angela Duckworth about the relationship between grit and achievement. I thought the reason I wasn’t able to do more advanced postures was the same reason I wasn’t satisfied with my choice to become a full-time yoga teacher.

I wasn’t gritty enough! Maybe I had the passion but not the perseverance. Perhaps, as a Millennial, perseverance was just an inborn trait that had been vacuumed out of us 😉

I thought again about my yoga practice and scrolling through Instagram admiring elite athletes in glorious poses. Although social feeds can be a source of inspiration, photos of perfect poses n e v e r illustrate the whole story.

It doesn’t show multiple retakes. It doesn’t show every angle. It doesn’t have a caption stating how many hours of practice on the mat and in the gym were logged before she nailed this pose.

No, I haven’t solidified every pose on my social media feed. I might have even plateaued in my practice. But that’s okay.

I’m still satisfied.

I’ve reached a point where my splits doesn’t need to get deeper. I don’t mind toeing the wall in my handstands. My crow feels s t r o n g even though I’m using bent elbows. I can still do a lot and I keep practicing.

The only thing that’s getting in the way of both my yoga practice and my yoga business is pride.

I keep changing my 30 second pitch. I keep spending more time refining my teaching. I keep researching and calling companies. I’ve come a long way in three months!

Nothing we do will every be perfect. Keep going. Time, practice, and failures are essential.

Let’s leave pride aside and r a i s e our heads.

2 thoughts on “On Failing Yoga and Life

  1. Hey don’t beat yourself up about the yoga poses – that’s not all what real yoga is about! It’s not just about twisting and turning but ao much more. I’ve written a couple posts on it and will do a few more on the topic – feel free to check out 🙂

    1. Thank you for commenting, Shruti. I also believe yoga is more than poses. I no longer feel the need to constantly progress and improve my practice. I let allow everything to come naturally with regular practice. 🙂

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