Friday, November 01, 2013

The value in reaching for the impossible

Often times, we label something as impossible and refuse to even think about whether we are capable of doing it or not. I'm not talking about going to the moon or speaking whale. I'm talking about smaller things. Like standing upside down in yoga.

My husband and I were running late for a Yin Yoga class. As we tiptoed into the room,  people were already midway through their routine and we quickly got our yoga mats out to join them. After a few rounds of the sun salutation, the instructor got down to demonstrating more complex positions. Like the Bakasana. And as if that wasn't enough, he proceeded to show us the Adho Mukha Vrukshasana! Now this is the dreaded Asana where your hands are on the floor and feet up in the air. The ones you see yogis do effortlessly. As I watched the instructor do it, my mind had already decided that there was no way my body was going to be able to do this. I hadn't done yoga properly in years, and the kind of yoga that I used to practice was simple and comfortable. And since Yin Yoga is some sort of cross between Yoga and Taoist practices, my mind was was already frowning upon it for deviating from yoga in its pure form.

Before I knew it, the instructor was by my side and asked me to lift up my left foot. He held my left foot and asked me to lift up the right, reassuring me that he'd catch me if I fell. I didn't think too much about it and lifted my right foot into the air. Lo and behold, my entire body was upside down for a second!

When I got back down, the instructor said it was a good start for the first day and went on to monitor the others. It has been two days since then, and the shock is yet to recede. This handstand was never on my list of 'impossible' things to do. Hell, it was not even on the waitlist. It was also in the category of 'uninteresting impossible' things to do.  Uninteresting in the sense, I didn't see what I could gain by doing a handstand. But the fact that I did it, albeit with the instructor's help made me see that eventually I could do it all by myself.

The handstand is just a metaphor for several impossible things. Every once in a while its a good idea to do something completely different from your daily routine, things that are in no way related to the main goals of your life. The handstand taught me that there are possibly several more things that my mind labels as 'impossible', therefore I don't even attempt them because I think they are impossible. As Confucius said and Will Smith made popular, "He who thinks he can and he who thinks he cannot, are both usually right".

And with that, I'm off to do more handstands and speak dog :)