Did you know that there are more than a thousand different ways to do Trikonasana?
On one particularly rebellious day, I kicked up with my weaker, less comfortable leg and my Pincha held for what seemed like a full 5 seconds. My co-teacher, Ron, looked at my wide-eyed expression with both amazement and just as much disbelief as me. I couldn’t believe that I held that inversion for as long as I did without falling over.
I had no expectations. And I was used to falling over, and for the sake of balance just trying to get up using the other side of my body. But, for some reason, that day the stars aligned (I’m being dramatic, I know) and held an inversion that normally didn’t give me the time of day.
I was never “the strong one” in class. And rather identified as being flexible. Born with such open hamstrings, it made splits seem like nothing.
But, being strong, controlled, and stable, was never something used to describe me. And I was perfectly fine with that, at least for that time.
But, as usual the world wants to make it a point to teach something, and the past few years have taught me that well. It’s that the moment you start identifying as something that identity gets tested.
I went from being the most flexible one to, “You’re no spring chicken.” How did that happen? And how did that happen so fast?
I’ll tell you a secret I shouldn’t say about me, especially now that I’m a teacher. But, when I started doing my teacher training and learned the importance of progression in practice and the necessary poses that taught the foundational efforts and movements, I thought it was necessary to everyone else… except me. For most of my life I skipped ahead and liked things to go from 0-100 really, really fast. And the thing was, for the most part it worked for me.
But things change.
Like they always do.
Poses got trickier, the flexibility I had finally discovered its limits. Plus, the little strength I had just wasn’t enough. I needed to learn different virtues and to meet with them on my mat; or quite frankly, to call them to meet with me on my mat, because sometimes they were nowhere in sight. What about this new thing called patience and more specifically, patience with self? And this thing called acceptance and so much more difficult, acceptance of self? As a teacher, you’d think it’s easier for me since I would always encourage my students that it’s okay if it doesn’t happen. But my internal monologue bluntly said, “No. Now.”
In the beginning my practice was purely physical and over the course of about 7 years evolved into a form of moving meditation for me. It was my way of meeting with parts of me I wanted to discover. It was figuring things out about my body, my mind, and my emotions that I hadn’t seen yet. It was a constant meeting place for me to discover who I was at that moment and enjoying what I found when I got there.
Some days were slower, others were quite sweaty. But my usual self-practice was nothing dramatic, I took what I needed when I got there. The same poses just took on different meanings and they constantly changed for me.
Photo by Gianluca Rolli
When people asked me before, “What’s your favorite yoga pose?” I always said some complicated, extreme version of a backbend because I was young and seeking validation. But if you ask me the same question now, well, it’d have to be something a lot simpler – Trikonasana. Because I’ve found that in reality, when I do observe how I feel in these simpler poses, I realize the value in them. And discover so much more about the world with myself in it when I’m in these asanas. Plus, they’re what I need to be doing anyway; to gain strength, improve my flexibility, and harness more stability if I ever want to nail that Pincha again. And on purpose this time.
Rather than attempting to do these complicated ones I thought I aspired to do immediately, I’m going back to basics. I’m refining my practice; finding the alignment and breath necessary in these poses that are suitable for me on this day, at this very moment, and at this stage of my life. Because somehow this Triangle feels different than it did yesterday.
I guess you could say, practicing yoga is like reading your favorite book again at a different point in your life and somehow it’s the same and different all at once.
What does your practice look like today?
Andi Banez is travelling yoga teacher, teaching in wonderful islands around the Philippines. She is currently teaching at her home studio, Urban Ashram Yoga. She’s an avid reader and enjoys meeting and learning about people. Lately, she’s developed a liking to reading tarot cards. Follow her: @andibanez | https://journeysaretwowaystreets.wordpress.com