Keep Calm, Carry On

“Lot of people they don’t know what they are capable of.
And when they do, they almost don’t believe they make it”

Patricia Walden

I nicked this from a friend’s post today on Facebook – she’s the kind of teacher who always seems to post just the right thing at the right time to describe my day – uncanny as I’ve never met her – such is the synchronicity of yoga teachers and like minded people perhaps, or just coincidence. Either way, this quote came on a day when I did just what she described and it reminded me so much of my own students and their journey through the yoga experience.

I’ve been attempting this pose kind of with a wink in the eye for some time – as my senior certificate level approaches, the attention to it is getting more serious but still keeping a good humour about it so that I don’t develop a negative attitude when it keeps eluding me! So today, with that same good cheer I went about “attempting” the pose, but for some reason, a change in the weather/attitude, I decided to practice it in a different way, more playful, more curious and less formulaic – how about like this, or like that, or what happens if I do this…..and while my mind was distracted (all the time whilst upside down on my head) my right foot in half padmasana (lotus), my left foot suddenly made contact with my right knee, for the first time in my years of practice without someone pushing my foot there. I surprised myself so much that I lost myself in the joy of it and of course fell straight out of it. But something had unlocked in my brain, so I went on to tackle other elusive poses and had similar successes, but this time, was prepared for the shock value, and managed to keep my head.

In the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, it states that our practice and our attitude to all things should have equanimity, be free of attachment and desire for results. Although this might sound austere and devoid of feeling, you could also argue that this approach gives us enormous freedom to “play”, to experiment and to just try, be curious, without the pressure of goal setting or expectation. The trick is, not to panic when things actually work! But instead, to keep a cool head – “Keep calm and carry on.”

When I was in Pune last year, one of the most memorable classes was with Sunita who was teaching some very strong backwards extensions – we had to attempt to arch back as far as we could from standing – we repeated and repeated several times. She could see the fear in many of us and at one point she said, “Just try it and see.” In other words, it doesn’t matter whether you achieve a good pose or not, whether your pose is better or worse than anyone else’s in the room, just do it, without the fear, without those boundaries that we surround ourselves with. Let go.

Padmasana in Sirsasana