I recently attended a workshop at YogaOne with Les Leventhal (who by the way is amazing and if you haven't had the pleasure of practicing with him don't miss it the next time he comes to town) and we were doing a morning intensive on back bends.
I hate back bends. I always have. They just don't feel good physically they are restrictive and uncomfortable. Not to mention the emotional panic I feel coupled with occasional arrhythmia .
I have always played safe with heart openers by sticking with camel and bridge, never daring myself or pushing too hard to try something new. But on this day we did a vigorous yet slow warm up to prepare for full wheel and I felt obligated...I mean...ready. (Actually we did MANY full wheels. He asked us pick a number between one and ten and not realizing what we were committing to we all agreed on the awesome number seven.) So, I pushed up. I felt good, somewhat at ease even. Les happened to walk by me (of course) and instructed me to straighten my feet. What? "My feet are straight" I said. He said, in his very comedic and loving way, "That's interesting. You look like Charlie Chaplin".
Interesting is right. I was so convinced that Les was wrong and that my feet were straight without having ever seen them for myself in this pose. And he said to me, "What if you took the risk and shifted, just a little, away from whatever you are resisting and the outcome was so much better than what you are used to."
Sometimes we get so stuck in our own mindset that we try to convince others they are wrong and we are right or we won't even listen because why bother? We are right. But what if, during every disagreement or challenge we were able to shift our view and at least investigate another perspective? It's not the same as giving in. Giving in comes from defeat, laziness and weakness. Shifting comes from strength. It's having the confidence within yourself to say, "You know what? The other way may be better. I have something to learn from this."
Turns out he was right. Turning my straight feet in fired up my legs to make my back bend stronger, more stable and more free. You know what else? I LOVE back bends. I took the risk and it was worth it.
Where are you resisting in your practice and in your relationships? The next time your teacher throws out a cue that you repeatedly ignore can you be willing to give it a shot? What if the outcome is worth it?
(By the way, Les will be back in Houston at YogaOne in November.)