Pictured: using a yoga wheel as a prop to modify a pose for my body
I started a new movement program today, a program dedicated to building handstand press. I spent an hour and a half grunting, occasionally flopping, and swearing. It was humbling. I'm not like, super athletic, but I was not expecting to fail so hard this morning.
But did I fail? No, I couldn't do 90% of the movements the way the teacher intended. But I moved to the best of my current ability. I did the work. So really... its not failure. That idea is something that took a long time to get stuck in my head. When I started moving more seriously and thoughtfully at the end of 2018, I would get discouraged so often. I'd see teachers giving examples, saying "this is how you do X", and then when I'd try to do it, I would fail miserably, not finding the movement at all.
So I'm sitting here this morning, sweat dripping, absolute disbelief in my voice, saying "You want me to do what?!"I'm watching this professional acrobat make exercises that I can't even do look effortless. Two years ago I probably would have cried. I could feel discouragement start to creep in. But I've been learning from some wonderful teachers lately, and I've learned that I'm not always going to look like the teachers. And that's okay.
When you start some kind of movement, whether its yoga, weightlifting, body weight exercises, pilates, you are most likely going to learn from a professional. Have you ever started a yoga class or a dance video or a weightlifting program and said "Oh hell no, my body doesn't do that, I just can't do it"? Odds are if you answer "no" to that question, you're lying. Its pretty much a given that your teacher is going to be able to move more efficiently and do the movements "better" than you. And most teachers won't even mention it.
But lately, I've started to associate with people of a more understanding mindset and its been a game-changer. Of course I'm not going to look like my movement teacher, who has trained for years in yoga, pilates, barre, belly dance, and BJJ. And when she acknowledges that our bodies are different and have different abilities, and then offers a solution to that difference, morale goes way up.
As I've continued to learn from people who acknowledge our differences and offer ways to succeed despite them, I've learned so much. Its not about looking or acting like the textbook example of a movement. Its about moving. And if that means you modify a movement to work for you, then modify away! Do you know how many modifications I made to my movements this morning? I can't even count. But I still did the work, I still learned, and I still got a hell of a workout. I invite you to say "How can I make this movement work for my body" instead of "I can't do that" next time you move. Please, let me know how that mindset shift works for you!
(If you are moving for the first time, it is a good idea to consult with a professional about safe and appropriate modifications).