Adho Mukha Svanasana. Downward facing dog has always given me a little bit of grief. I remember back when I started practicing yoga asana, I used to think my wrists were going to give out all the time. This, of course, was all due to poor form and lack of those integral muscles that naturally strengthen with consistent practice. No matter what I did, though, I never felt like my posture was right, or straight enough, or high enough, or whatever enough which I think comes a lot with the dawn of social media and the “picture perfect yogi”, but that is a topic for another day. My lack of soundness in the posture was also because no one ever corrected me or showed me the right way.
Regardless of how challenging this posture felt, I never really got frustrated. I knew and know that this is a posture that I have to keep coming back to. It is a base posture, a repeated motion, a part of literally every single practice. So, I kept coming back.
From the time that I was around sixteen until I was maybe twenty, I had been doing down-dog all wrong, actually. One day, a guest instructor advised me that if I started in plank and then, without moving my hands and feet, moved into downward dog, I would have correct hand to feet distance in my pose. My mind was literally blown. Butttt…As you can guess, with anything that you practice wrong for years, everything felt bad in this new way. I felt as if my bum wasn’t high anymore, my heels were not touching the ground like when my stance was smaller, and I looked all wrong! Of course, this is how I felt, not how my body was actually reacting. Not to mention, for once, I was in correct alignment. It didn’t matter what I looked like, because the goal was and is always alignment. Alignment over depth of posture (aka alignment over ego). Not how close my heels are to the ground, not how high my booty is.
Now, Adho Mukha Svanasana is one of my favorite places to be. I continue to work on it, but I like to work on it. From my wrists practically braking in the beginning, there has been a shift to me feeling the strength and support of my abs and thighs, releasing the pressure in my arms. From my heels frantically reaching toward the ground in vain, there has been a shift of a gradual release to the earth. Everything in the posture is different simply because someone corrected me, I listened, and I stuck with it even though it felt uncomfortable and different.
Isn’t that life though? Sometimes we do things wrong or that are bad for us for so long that when we try to change our behavior or someone calls us out, we feel as if we can’t change. Why? Because change is uncomfortable and different. Our bad habits become the norm and when that happens, we feel stuck in them. You, yourself know when something feels wrong. You know when your alignment is off. Whether it be how you spend your money, what you are ingesting into your body, how you are treating someone, where you are spending your time, and so on and so forth, if it isn’t aligning with what you want to be doing, you feel that. When our friends, family members, coworkers, etc. come to us speaking out of love (NOTE THAT-SPEAKING OUT OF LOVE, NOT CRITICISM), we often put up this shield, instantly feeling criticized, attacked, and judged.
You are not stuck.
“Acknowledging the unproductive thoughts and ineffective behavior that you’ve tried to ignore can be uncomfortable. But, stepping out of your comfort zone and choosing to proactively address bad habits will skyrocket your ability to create long-lasting change”
. -Amy Morin
If you are feeling stuck, today, I am encouraging you to remember your own strength. You have it!
~Strength to acknowledge where you are at, today. Heck, I applaud anyone who just recognizes where they need to change! That’s hard!
~Strength in knowing that you may look a little funny, initially, in the growing process…but as I stated so eloquently in my last post…who cares?! Those who support you in your positive change are the ones that matter, anyway. Don’t be afraid to outgrow an old environment that is hurting you more than helping you.
~Strength to take a good look at your habits. Do you like them? Are they putting you on the path or in the direction that you want to be in.
~Strength to enjoy the process. Something can start out so rough and uncomfortable, but you would be surprised at how quickly that can change. Just like a posture that you kind of…dislike…in your yoga class (cough cough shoulder stand cough cough), the more you practice, the more you may grow to love the process.
~Strength to embrace the loving concern or advice of others rather than shutting it down. You don’t have to agree with it. You don’t have to ultimately change because of it. But, chances are, if you are feeling attacked or are feeling like it’s too close for comfort….there is probably some truth in it. There is strength in not always being right.
~Strength in the sometimes discomfort of positive change. That discomfort is the discomfort of adult growing pains, I like to think.
~Strength to stick with it. But also….
~Strength to show yourself forgiveness when you slip up. And then…
~Strength to always try again. Keep coming back. Create habits that are your base. Your foundation. The ones that become your repeated motion in life.