This week in Vinyasa 2//3 classes, we were working on a kneeling version of this pose. It’s quite awkward to get your shoulder and outer arm (tricep) to wrap in this direction, while maintaining balance and arching the spine into a backbend. It’s a pose that has never been taught to me in a yoga class, and a pose I’ve never taught before. I’ve admired the beauty and the mobility required in the pose for a couple of years now, but my inflexible spine won’t allow me to grab my toes. Then I thought, “Why not teach this with a strap?”

Summer Perez  Side Plank 1/2 Bow

Summer Perez Side Plank 1/2 Bow

It’s an awkward pose: clunky, easy to fall out of, hard to get into, requires massive flexibility in side, chest, shoulder, spine and abdomen. Here are some thoughts that entered my mind as I attempted the pose, as well as some my students shared with me after class (after I spoke on the topic of this article after savasana):

I feel like a failure

This sucks

I hate this pose

I don’t like this class

I’m mad at the teacher

I feel foolish

I feel awkward

What is interesting is that I’d bet at least 90-95% of the students in class had never attempted this pose before, with this specific shoulder modification. So why would we believe that we’d be good at it??? It’s NEW! We haven’t done it before! OF COURSE IT’S AWKWARD!!! Wouldn’t it be ridiculous if we nailed this pose on the 1st try? If we balanced with ease and a relaxed mind as we effortlessly guided ourselves in and out of it????

How many times do we do this in our lives – with a new job, new skill we are trying to learn, new hobby, a new sport/activity.  What ends up happening? We say, “this is no good,” or worse, “I’m no good.”  Instead we must realize that we don’t excel at it immediately because it’s UNKNOWN. It’s new. We must try something over and over and over and over in order for it to feel like we have some semblance of knowing what we’re doing. And to be good or dare I say great at it? Perhaps a year or many more.

Catch yourself next time you try something new or awkward. Allow yourself to be in the discomfort of not having it down perfectly. Remind yourself that you’re a beginner at it and that it’s impossible for you to know it perfectly right now. Start to learn all you can from where you feel stuck and how to find a little more ease in it. Especially ease in how you treat yourself in your own mind!

Kelli Russell
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  • Shannon
    Posted at 02:31h, 14 June Reply

    This was perfect for me today. I had a crap boot camp class this morning. I felt heavy, tired and awkward. I loved the instructor… But I was falling down a rabbit hole of self yuckiness. So I decided to go to this class as often as possible for the next few months!!! Thanks for this blog!

    • kellirussellyoga
      Posted at 20:22h, 02 October Reply

      Hi Shannon! I just saw your post right now! Sorry I didn’t see it sooner. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. So great that you decided to go as often as possible. What happened after those months went by?

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