I DON’T DO YOGA! I PRACTICE YOGA !
Just as a runner does not do a marathon, he or she spends hours, days, months and years training in order to run (do) marathons. Dancers don’t just wake up one day and perform complex choreography with ease, they practice daily for weeks, months and years.
This is why, as a yoga teacher, I get weary of hearing “I can’t do that” or “I can’t do yoga”. I am weary because I couldn’t do 98% of what I do now when I started, either! I did not get to where I am now by magic; I wasn’t at all flexible when I started, my posture was poor, and my core and many other muscles were weak. Fortunately, I have had great teachers and attended many helpful workshops and trainings. I have been to classes ranging from horrible to excellent.
Mostly, I work hard at it every day with my mind as focused as possible every moment of the practice. And when I find a good teacher, I stay with him or her so that they know me and know what is hard for me. (Because I try to avoid what is hard. Yup, I do this too!)
The other reason yoga teachers get tired of hearing “I can’t do that” or “I can’t do yoga” is that we know it is not true. We see people practice yoga who let nothing stand in their way. Personally, I have practiced yoga with a person missing an arm, another person dealing with multiple sclerosis, and people recovering from cancer treatments and surgeries.
The main reason I am weary of hearing this (and I suppose most other teachers are also) is because it is a self-fulfilling-prophecy. It keeps you from starting and inhibits progress when you do start.
If you have ever tried to teach a kid to swim or ride a bike you know exactly what I am talking about. All those attempts when they didn’t believe they could do it didn’t bring success! Yet once they start to believe even slightly “maybe I can do this”, the attempts become successful. This isn’t just true for kids!!! It is true for adults as well. I and my yoga friends often talk about why we struggle with certain poses, for example I was (still am) frightened of arm balances and handstand poses. I know the problem is in my mind – my thinking “I can’t do this” or fear “what if I fall, and get hurt”. Intellectually I know this is ridiculous because I can do these with a spotter or teacher standing next to and supporting me, and I have fallen and not gotten hurt. It might be ten or one hundred more attempts before I believe I can do it and/ or get past fear enough to actually succeed.
So keep trying, keep practicing, there is no finish line.
All the best~ Christina