Back in year three of my practice, I had committed to practicing yoga as much as I could. I felt so good, and I loved the class so much, that I was a regular fixture at the studio. I had been that way in the past, but it was different now. I knew I was going to do this yoga forever.
That being said I was also in the year of preferences. Maybe you’re in that phase today, or maybe you’ve already been through it. I preferred a certain spot in the room. I preferred this water bottle instead of that water bottle. And, of course, I preferred one teacher over another.
In fact, I preferred one teacher so much I would reschedule my day to take their class if I could. The teacher kept a good pace, gave tips, and helped me be a better student of the yoga. The ninety minutes would fly by when they were on the podium. They made the class fun. It was always a great day if I could make their class.
One unassuming day in the hot room, during Final Stretching in the Bikram Yoga Series, this particular teacher, my favorite teacher, mentioned to me, “You know, Tori, you have such long legs. You might never touch your head to your feet in this pose. No worries. It’s just the way you’re built.”
I was friends with this teacher and laughed at the comment, wittily claiming, “Well, I guess I’ll die trying!” with a smile. The students around me chuckled and class continued on.
I know that teacher was trying to help. I still love and respect this teacher, though I haven’t seen them or taken class from them in years, as our paths went in opposite directions. But, unfortunately, that comment stays with me even now.
To say it bothered me is an understatement. I have been told I won’t be able to do many things in my life because of my height or because I’m a woman or because someone, somewhere didn’t think I was talented enough or had enough drive. And because of this, I’ve never let someone else put limits on what was possible for me and for my story. If I had, I wouldn’t be able to look back at some of the amazing things that have happened for me in the past, simply because I refused to give up.
Over the past couple of years though, I thought that in this case, maybe that teacher was right. I am nowhere near touching my head to my feet in Final Stretching and I am in year twelve of my practice. When would it happen? Would it ever happen?
But it is closer. And last week, having freshly cut fringe that hangs straight over my forehead even when practicing, as I extended as far as I could in the posture, I felt my hair, and then my forehead, touch my wrist. It felt like a miracle. Contact. Possibilities. Change was happening even if it was at a snail’s pace. Someday in the future I will bite the big toes. Or I will die trying. I guess we’ll wait and see.
So, the story is not how wrong this teacher is. Right now, they are still right. I have not touched my head to my feet. I have about an inch to go. Instead, I think the story is about choosing to believe that anything is possible – within your yoga practice and in your life. If I had bought into the fact that it would never happen, I would not be where I am in the posture today. If the goal is impossible, why would you work for it?
Anything is possible for you when it comes to your yoga practice. You might feel you are too broken, or too weak, or will never be considered flexible, but when you step on your mat you are giving yourself a chance to discover everything that you are that day, in that moment, and everything that you could possibly be down the line. Don’t let someone else put a limit on what is possible for you and don’t do it to yourself either. Accept that you don’t know what is going to happen and embrace the loveliness of that thought instead of being frightened by it. The whole world is yours to experience and enjoy and you, my friend, are nothing short of limitless.
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