So another retreat has come to an end at Akasha and what an inspiring group of people. I think the most amazing thing about teaching here is the diversity of nationalities that we get on the retreats in Romania; a place that has a bad rep(utation) so few people dare to venture out to explore this hidden gem...little do they know what they’re missing!
I was sat with an Israeli, Swiss, and Norwegian at breakfast this morning and we started talking about failure. Ayelet, the Israeli, was explaining how failure is encouraged in her country, it is seen as a way for growth and development. Although the word has negative connotations, it is seen in a positive light and even somewhat encouraged as a part of natural evolution in businesses, universities, and so on.
That morning we’d been playing around with handstands in the class. I taught a somewhat demanding flow building heat in the body to make sure that my fellow yogis could really feel the muscles that needed to be engaged before lift off... which is EVERYTHING. The sequence worked on strengthening poses before introducing different ways of playing with balance on the hands. It wasn’t focused on the end result but the journey. Often when attempting handstand there is an element of fear, but isn’t fear just an emotional state of mind that points towards the root of a looming negative emotion? Perhaps an anticipation of failure?
Why do most people fear handstands? Because they are scared of falling out... failing. Yes, you will inevitably fall out of a handstand, even if you can hold if for 5 minutes straight (which I most definitely cannot), one day you will wobble and fall because everybody has bad days.
Yoga sequences can be seen as a simile for growth; taking things in gradual steps, adding more challenging poses before reaching the peak. But the pathway to the peak is just as important as the peak, it’s the journey that makes the most difference. If you don’t build core strength you will never master a handstand. But on top of this, you relearn how to be playful. As children we throw ourselves into cartwheels, handstands, flipping left, right, and centre. We don’t have those negative emotions, doubts and worries, holding us back.
We BELIEVE we can do it and we TRUST that we can pick ourselves up again when we inevitably come tumbling down. There is no success or failure as it is all just fun, part of the day in the life of a kid; being young and playful.
I find yoga empowering for this exact reason, and I find the people I meet along the way just as inspiring as my personal practice. It’s important to change perspective, by going upside down but also by learning about different cultures. Although I'm a teacher, I learn something new each day; both in yoga and in life!