A confession: When I first started doing yoga, I'd see people get into crazy pretzel poses and I'd be in awe and half disbelief. Like how exactly, I'd think, does one do that?! And after fifteen seconds of looking around the room at other people's seemingly perfect poses I'd turn to my mat, fully aware that I was the only one not perching my knees on my arms in crow pose.
Maybe I'd give it a solid half-assed attempt. You know, just to make it look like I was doing something on my mat. But the truth is, I never really believed I could do it, and after the first pitiful attempt I'd write that difficult pose off. Nope, I'd think. Not for me.
But if the pose wasn't for me, and I really believed that I couldn't do it, why did I keep going back to class? When crazy poses popped up in class, why did I keep giving them my standard poor excuse for an attempt? Why'd I keep trying? Why didn't I completely sit it out?
At some point, I'm realizing, there began a period of time when I no longer believed I couldn't do the crazy pretzel poses presented in class. Let's be clear, I didn't exactly believe I could do them, but I wasn't saying I couldn't either. It was a blurred, hazy time where I was stuck on my mat between the possible and impossible.
In yoga, this foggy time is scary. It's teetering between the known and unknown as the practice continues to grow, and, at least for me, it doesn't get less scary. But the nope goes away. I no longer write off the seemingly impossible.
Emotionally it's a weird time too, because attempting to do something you've never done before means you're confronting fears and preconceived ideas about what your capabilities. It means you're willing to drop the armor and the masks and let yourself be honestly and vulnerably where you are in the moment, both on and off the mat.
The best yoga advice I ever got was from Meghan Currie who said, "Say yes."
It's so simple, right? All we have to do is say yes. How hard can it be?
Well it turns out it's pretty hard when we've grown up telling ourselves no. When we've identified challenges instead of opportunities and dismissed them without considering even a sliver of possibility.
So now, in my personal practice when I'm trying something for the first time, in my head all I'm thinking is yes. Each yes peels back another layer of self doubt and the impossible suddenly becomes possible. You find yourself emerged on the other side of what you once viewed as an obstacle, realizing that it was actually an opportunity for growth. So the next time you catch yourself about to write something off as too difficult, take a second look and instead say yes.