Feet in the grass and gaze to the sky, today I sweated in sunshine with 100 other yogis at Denver’s first Yoga Rocks the Park of the season led by Tina Porter, one of my favorite teachers (who also trained me to teach).
If you’re in a Tina class, it’s nearly guaranteed you’ll practice standing splits. Before I came into the pose, I spied a woman in front of me doing the full expression — right heel directly above her head, chest against her standing left leg anchored into the ground. Her fingertips feathered the grass.
She wasn’t showing off. She was working it. She trusted her body could, and so with practice it did.
Out of all my difficulties — from breath-taking heartbreaks to yearning for friendships that didn’t last to practicing yoga seven days straight with Tina and monkeys in Nicaragua — what has been most difficult is learning to trust myself.
When you don’t trust, you get stuck — like me at the park in half splits with my right lifted leg parallel to the mat because I’ve never thought to lift it higher.
And then you see someone who does it and think, maybe, just maybe I can do that.
So I feathered my fingertips. I took a deep breath in, hugged my standing leg’s quadricep up and stretched my right foot as high as I could to the sky.
And wouldn’t you know, that leg went farther than it has ever gone before.
Every moment is a chance for a new beginning. It starts small with thinking you can. It progresses into knowing you can.
And then eventually you don’t care one way or another if you can or can’t.
That is yoga.
Back to the beginning
On June 10, 2012, I posted my first Weekly Dharma to a small handful of friends and family and fellow online creators. Nearly a year later, Willow and I have come to the mat each week (exception, mono — ugh, remember that? I do.)
I didn’t plan to have my little dog in the photos with me. She just showed up. And she continues to show up when I unroll the mat (especially because treats are involved!)
But from the start Happy Momentum wasn’t just about hilarious photos with my dog.
Happy Momentum is itself a daily practice — it’s how I use yoga to reroute my thoughts from familiar patterns that tell me I’m worthless, and then inspire you to do the same.
It’s how I learned to trust myself and give myself permission to know that everything is going to be okay.
For a long time, depression was the norm. I had the sort of sadness that creeps up on you and then, like a bit of snow rolls down a mountain, gathering momentum, the avalanche swept me away from Me.
I was still shaking the blues when I enrolled in yoga teacher training. By the time I graduated, I knew why I wanted to teach. I wanted to help make what is possible for me, possible for someone else.
I want that someone to be you.
Introducing You Again Yoga
I came to yoga because of depression; and I came out of depression because of yoga.
During the in between — when I lost all interest in well, anything, and didn’t want to get out of bed and didn’t have the little dog who gives me a reason to wake up at 7 a.m. — I didn’t feel like me.
I felt like I was teetering on the edge of trying to care about anything and not wanting to care about anything. I kept thinking that the answer to feeling better was to go beyond myself — someone or something would pull me out, right?
What I’ve found is there is hope to be had in your own skin.
There are answers waiting for you to listen to them.
Feeling like you again isn’t just for those emerging from a depression diagnosis. It’s for all of us who get anxious, uncertain, worried, upset, lost.
It’s for all of us who breathe.
“Where do you put your time and energy and how does that show up in your life?” Tina asked us yogis today.
I invite you to put time and energy back into you so you can feel like You again.
If this sounds grand, head over here to be one of the first to practice You Again Yoga.
Try it: Extended Puppy Pose, Uttana Shishosana
Take your first step toward a calm mind with Extended Puppy Pose (puppy optional!). To me, this pose is the epitome of stepping toward you again. Bring some breathe and life back into your spine while feeling grounded, supported and ever in control.
Modification: You can flatten your chest more toward the mat in this pose with a slight curve in the low back, but I often feel a not-so-good tenderness there, so try both options to see what works best for you.
- Come to hands and knees, stacking your hips directly above your knees. Keep your toes flat on the mat. Inhale and walk your hands forward, lengthening through active fingers.
- Exhale and shift the hips back slightly as you drop your forehead to the mat (or prop it on a pillow or blanket), maintaining hips over knees. Keep the elbows lifted away from the floor and gently firm your shoulders away from the ears, upper arms slightly lifted with a relaxed neck.
- Breathe deeply in the stretch, elongating through the fingertips and pressing your glutes energetically toward your heels to increase the stretch in the spine.
- After eight deep breaths, lift the head slightly and draw the hips back onto the heels for Child’s Pose.