I’ve been musing about how I feel fearless lately and thinking about the things that helped me get that way. Most of them are just normal things, but done intentionally (like walking). Another thing that’s made a huge difference for me is doing yoga regularly.
Now, I’m not one of those super-flexible yoginis that they show in ads. In fact, when I was taking my one ill-fated year of ballet lessons, I overheard the woman tell my mother that I was the least limber child she’d ever seen. That did not inspire me to dance greatness. Plus, when I tried gymnastics, I never could complete a backward roll. Still haven’t, for that matter.
BUT, there are two things about yoga that have built my confidence in my body and buoyed my soul.
It’s not a competition
When you do yoga with real people with their varied abilities and issues, it quickly becomes apparent that comparing yourself with others in your class or the teacher is a waste of time. The mental part is as important as the physical part, and by gosh everyone can practice making their mind still and concentrating on their breath. Who cares if their hands don’t touch the floor when they bend over?
You can be the best you
Yoga is not the only thing this is true of, but it’s really important. When you continue to practice yoga, you begin to realize that you are improving in many ways. I can bend over much farther than I ever could before, can reach my feet from a backbend, and can balance a long time in tree pose. I started out unable to do any of these things.
Now, I probably will never manage some poses, due to my structural weaknesses, but even the things that are hard for me become easier. And I feel good about my body for becoming stronger, more supple, and more disciplined.
How my fearlessness comes into it is that earlier in my life when I practiced yoga, I didn’t push my body. I didn’t trust it to go farther than it had before. So, my progress was very slow. By listening to my teachers and talking to myself, I made it past the big hurdle of going just a little further each time. The day my head hit my feet in turtle pose proved to me that removing the fear led to rapid, healthy progress.
I really used to sell myself short by thinking my body just wasn’t made for being strong or flexible. I listened to others, forgetting that the only person who should just my abilities is me.