August 16, 2012

What I Learned from Wiping Out in Yoga Class

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The scene: A yoga studio, lights dimmed, soothing music playing.  10 or so people breathing deeply while twisting their bodies into various poses on their mats.  Positive words from the instructor, spoken in a soft, smooth voice.  Then...BAM!  That would be me.  Or more specifically, my butt.  Hitting the floor--make that COLLIDING with the floor as I epically wipe out from an arm balance.  Grace has never been my greatest strength.

Not a yogi?  (Or a wannabe yogi like me?)  Arm balances are basically yoga poses that require you to support your body by resting it on your arms or elbows, or even hold up your weight using just your arms (without resting your body directly against them).  They can be...incredibly hard.  Especially if you have major chicken arms like me.  But they are a FANTASTIC activity to improve balance and to mold those chicken arms into something more substantial.  Anyways, enough explanation, let me get to my point.
The pose I was attempting pre-fall... (source)
Where was I?  Oh, in the middle of a quiet yoga class, I fell.  Loudly and painfully, smacking my hip into the wood floor.  And this was definitely not my first fall out of an arm balance at yoga.  Not by a long shot.  You know what though?  I could not care less that I was the only one audibly crashing and burning while trying to hold a side crow pose at Monday night's vinyasa flow class.  Wanna know why?  Because I was trying.  That's all.  I was going for it, trying something new and hard, pushing my body, giving it all.  And you know what?  I held this pose for the first time Monday for a few seconds before I wiped out.  And that, my friends, is worth celebrating in my book.

The thing is, I've learned a lot from falling out of arm balances at yoga class. 

You'd think I might have learned that I suck at yoga, or at the very least that I should spend those five minutes of class when other people are arm balancing in child's pose.  What I've learned, though, is how amazing it feels to try.

I don't know about you, but I frequently find myself fighting to ignore that whisper in my ear, Miss Perfectionist, who likes to tell me how I should be and what I should be doing.  There was a time when Miss Perfectionist didn't like me to try new things or to set goals that might be just out of reach.  My senior year in college, I was in the middle of applying to the Peace Corps (long story, but obviously my life turned in another direction), and I remember talking with my roommate about how scary the whole process was.  I was scared I'd get rejected and even more scared that I'd get accepted, go, and be bad at it.  I remember thinking that before then, I'd never even applied for a job I didn't know I could get.  The thought of really putting myself out there and chasing a crazy dream was...terrifying.  Miss Perfectionist preferred that I stick with what I knew, with what I was sure to be good at.  Miss Perfectionist preferred me to stay FAR away from the big, scary world of failing.
You know what I've learned since then, though?  Failing at something doesn't make you a failure.  It means you were brave and bold and daring enough to actually try.  To risk, to hope, to fight the good fight, to go for it, to chase your dreams, to build castles in the sky, to jump from a cliff and build your wings on the way down.

Failing doesn't mean it's time to give up.  It means it's time to keep fighting, keep working, keep believing in yourself and all that you are and all that you can become.

Go ahead.  Look fear of failing in the eye and say "kiss my ass."  Register for a race, set a new PR goal, decide to take on a freaking triathlon, don't let fear hold you back.  There is no shame in failure.  There is only shame in never trying.  And you know what?  You just might surprise yourself.
Perfect? Not even close.  Progress? Heck yes.
After falling out of crow pose a billion times over the past few months and disrupting my fellow yoga-class-goers, I held this pose the other day for about 20 seconds.  So, I think I will take the bruised hips and noisy awkward falls, and keep trying.  I'm not afraid of falling, because with every fall you learn.  You learn, you grow, and you get right back up and try again...

What lessons have you learned lately?


  1. Amy,
    This is such a motivational post! Thank you :)


  2. I second that- you are inspirational for sure! & because of that - I tagged you here -


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