What does your yoga practice have to do with self-love? Stephanie Birch talks about the process of showing up on the mat for herself, how it gave her purpose, turned pain into passion, and love into life.Read more
I can and I will! Your will power to do anything is how you do everything. Your will to overcome fear, your will to push your limits, your will to challenge yourself is closely connected with putting your heart in everything you do. Without heart, nothing gets done.
This month’s focus is – I can do anything! And…you can! Two posture that make me feel like “I can do anything” is forearm stand and handstand, and for very different reasons.
The forearm stand was quite elusive to me, as a beginner. My brain said, “how is it possible? This does not make sense!” It became my “goal” posture as a way to work towards challenging myself through the unknown; physically and mentally. I had a daily working relationship with balancing on my forearms that left me feeling inspired every single time I fell out of the pose. With every fall, I learned something new. And falling is a part of the practice. When we are falling or failing, we are growing. Forearm stand intrigued me. It inspired me. And it awakened a drive within me to understand it. My handstand relationship was quite different, it made me feel anxious and it scared me. I would avoid handstands at all costs, if I could. Often times hiding behind other students in class in hopes that I would not be called to demo such a balance. Teachers have this innate ability of picking out students that do not want to be called upon during class. With handstands, the mechanics of balancing on the hands leaves a little less room for floor management than the forearms. I had to and still continue to work through my fear of heights and handstand is something I practice because it teaches me how to move through fear.
Today, challenge yourself to live in curiosity on your mat and push your limits to move through your fear. Whether it’s learning a new posture, inviting a new lens or outlook, be moved by your attitude that you CAN do anything because you will it! Step outside, toss down your mat, and get upside-down. Fall, fly, and repeat!
Forearm Stand: If you’ve been following along these several months, you’ll notice that my monthly posts often include forearm planks or dolphin and core work. Those postures are great prep tools to get you feeling the ground from your hands to elbows and core engagement.
Start in dolphin pose. The forearms are shoulder-width distance pressing firm into the earth. Lift your tailbone high, thighs are back and wide and hug your ribs down and in towards the belly. Slowly begin to walk your toes in towards your elbows as close as you can, keeping the shoulders above the elbows.
Lift your left leg to the sky, keeping the left hip in line with the right. Activate the back of your left thigh rotate the inner left thigh up towards the sky. Left foot is either flexed with toenails down toward the earth or point your toes with your top foot parallel to the ground. The importance here is engage your entire left leg.
Your right leg will be your “kicker.” Bend your right knee and take a few small kicks or come up onto your tip-toes to feel your torso shift forward and then back. You are using the left leg to feel the point of balance and assess the need of momentum of your kick-up. As you kick up, squeeze your forearms toward each other, staying firm into the ground. Gaze forward slightly in front of your palms, keep your neck long and shoulders on the back, as to not carry your body weight into your armpits and banana the posture in the low back.
Once you kick up, the left goes high and then the right follows. When both legs meet, squeeze the thighs together. The shoulders stay above the elbows. Play with the point of balance. Tilt the pelvis towards the belly and draw your ribs in towards the spine.
Start in downward-facing dog. Feel each pad of your fingertips pressing into your mat, every corner of your palms pushing into the earth.
Walk your toes into a shortened down-dog stance, as close as you can to your wrists, keeping your shoulders above your wrists.
Gaze forward, left leg lifts high with the same cues above in forearm stand. Strong and activated left leg, point or “floint” or flex your left foot.
Your right leg will be your kicker. Bend your right knee and take a few kicks to bunny hop, keeping the left leg straight and active.
Once you’re ready to blast-off, kick the left leg high, pressing the palms with a fierceness, with the eye of the elbows forward. Keep the left leg long, stacked up from wrist to shoulder and hip. Allow the right leg to meet the left.
As the legs meet, press the thighs together to kiss. Keep your ribs in toward your belly. Hips will be stacked or slightly over past your head. Take a few breaths.
As I said, falling is a part of the process. It is good to warm up your body before flying upside-down. Backbends, side stretches, and twists are important in the falling and flying process. In forearm stand you may fall forward into a backbend. As for handstand, there are two options: falling forward into backbend or stepping out into a cartwheel.
As such with life, we flourish in curiosity and empower ourselves through our fear.
Whatever relationship you have on your mat, translates into your life. I invite you live in a state of curiosity and while tackling fears by living through them. Have fun on your mat, allow your fears to move, and fall everyday. You can do anything so long as you put your mind to it and allow your heart to lead the process.
After you’ve played, give yourself a pat on the back, and jump with your joy!