When I began my teacher training journey almost eight years ago, I had grand visions of mastering all manner of challenging poses in the hope of being able to demonstrate and share them with my students. High on my list was pincha mayurasana (forearm stand). I was strong, flexible, and determined, and before the semester concluded, I could find my way into the pose with ease. There was just one catch: I needed to use a block between my hands.
While I am quick to offer a prop or recommend modifications to my students - and often demonstrate their use - I faced resistance every time I considered showing students my forearm stand "crutch." So I set a goal of achieving the pose unassisted and went to work. I worked, and worked, and worked some more. I sequenced nearly every home practice using pincha as my "peak pose." And one day, it happened. The block was no longer necessary.
Years later, I discovered with great delight that I was pregnant! As I neared the end of my pregnancy, practicing arm balances and inversions took a backseat to a more grounded (literally) focus. When my daughter was born and I felt ready to resume a more challenging physical practice, I headed straight to my old friend forearm stand. Much to my frustration, the consistency I worked so hard to achieve had become elusive. I toppled over or struggled to hold myself up at least as often as I achieved the pose. Disappointed with myself, I took it out of my teaching rotation.
After the passing of legendary yoga teacher B.K.S. Iyengar last month, many teachers talked about his legacy - specifically pioneering the use of props to make yoga and its benefits accessible to everyone. Inspired by the reminder, I grabbed a block, and there it was: confidence and comfort in a pose I love. It occurred to me that my stubborn pride was robbing students of the opportunity to experience the benefits of the pose and gain confidence in their own practice. The following week, I demonstrated my crutch in all its glory, and after class multiple students remarked the block gave them the confidence to approach a pose they previously considered out of reach.
How often do we allow our stubborn unwillingness to use the tools available to prevent us from growing or healing? Could you improve your peace of mind benefit by talking to a therapist? Do you need to see a doctor for that persistent pain in your back? Would you be better able to care for your children if you accepted a friend's invitation to babysit while you take some time for yourself? What crutch can you use this month - and how might it help?