Flamingos and yoga
I teach a pose in my yoga classes that I've been calling the “funky flamingo.” Obviously the funky flamingo isn’t a sacred, ancient yoga pose! It’s just a fun shape with a silly name that can become part of your yoga practice when you bring your attention, breath, and compassion to it. If you’re curious, here’s a version of it:
There's a lot going on! Chair pose, a heel squeezing up to challenge the hamstrings, a twist, plus balance. If you're having a tough balance day, and you feel like you've gotta master the pose, this could be a recipe for frustration. But what your body's doing in the pose isn't really the point. Like most other poses that show up in yoga classes, it’s not special in itself. It doesn’t matter if you balance on one leg like a flamingo or sit in a chair and focus on a gentle twist. It makes no difference if you’re completely steady or you lose your balance over and over. How you look in the pose doesn't matter. At all. How you approach it is what makes it yoga practice. While you’re in flamingo or any other pose, just notice:
How does my back feel right now? My ankles? My hips? What is my breath like? Smooth/choppy? Shallow/deep? What’s my inner narrative like? Can I let go of judging myself right now? Maybe even say something kind or grateful?
What you do with your body is just a small part of yoga. (And self care.) You can bring attention, breath, and compassion to any pose and to literally anything else in your life, too.
You can approach gardening like yoga practice, bringing your full attention to the texture of the soil, the brightness of the plants, the smell of the air, and the feeling of the breeze. You can approach driving like yoga practice, finding your breath even in heavy traffic. You can approach dinner with your in-laws like yoga practice, staying kind with yourself and extending compassion to them, as well. When you remember that yoga is much more than a bunch of poses, anything can become yoga practice. Kinda takes the pressure off of getting those balance poses "right," doesn't it?