Whenever I have new students in my class, I always like to explain that while downward facing dog is a restful pose, it may not feel that way for awhile. Can you relate? I know that I can.
Even after years of practicing yoga, and knowing what my body is supposed to do, I still struggle from time to time finding rest in this pose. However, my lack of resting isn't because my hamstrings are pulling, or there is too much weight on my wrists. My non resting place is deeper than that.
This restlessness rears its head in more than just downdog, it’s a part of many poses, and many areas on and off my mat.
You see, my back isn't completely straight in my down dog, and I don't have much hang time in my handstands. My forward fold doesn't connect my chest and thighs, but leaves a large window between them. My unrestful space? Comparison and frustration. It can come in any shape or size, yoga or not. Have you ever been there? Maybe instead of yoga, it's someone's home, or their mothering, or their fitness plan, we have all sat under the weight of feeling inadequate.
I remind my students all of the time that we don't force our bodies into yoga poses. We show up wherever our body allows, and take deep breaths. The breath creates space that we slowly and effortlessly move into. Forcing and striving leads to a joyless practice full of injury and frustration. I'll let you in on a secret, most of the time as teachers, we are reminding you of what we also need to be reminded of. The same goes for life, as soon as we start forcing and striving towards goals or the approval of others, the joy leaves, the frustration settles in and we risk injury of our own hearts and the hearts around us.
Surrender is key here. Surrender to what is, and grace-filled acceptance of who you are right now. We need to remind ourselves that we are enough. That we are treasured and loved. That we are in this for the long haul, not any medal given at the end of a sprint.
A teacher once told me, you do you. Don't worry about what others are doing around you, just be true to your design.
So my encouragement to you today (for us) is keep showing up to your down dog. Rest will come. Use the breath and don't force anything. You do you. And above all, remember this is a journey.