We spend half of our life waiting. Waiting in queues, waiting for a certain time or event or even just waiting for the perfect set of circumstances. How often do we put life on hold, waiting for better weather, the right outfit or until we feel like it?
Thinking, hoping and praying for sunshine
I have a wardrobe filled with beautiful clothes and shoes. I used to be quite the shoe collector, amassing an impressive selection of heels and wedges suited to all occasions, and just in case I was ever invited to the Queen’s garden party. Having this selection of footwear made me feel good, because I had plenty of options for ‘just in case,’ but honestly I never wore most of them because I didn’t have the right outfit, occasion or weather to justify putting them on.
As my yoga practice evolved and I began taking it more seriously my feet shrank (I know that’s a bit random, but it’s true) and most of the shoes no longer fitted me. Sending them off to the charity shop, unworn and in their original boxes was sad and quite freeing. This gave me the opportunity to stop waiting for the ‘right’ weather and by shoes I could wear in a downpour. I still love a fabulous pair of shoes, but now I wear them at every opportunity I get.
On my way to work each morning I drive along a road which is lined with trees. In the springtime these trees are blooming with the dusty pink and subtle white of cherry and apple blossoms. Further along on my drive, the side of the road is framed by a ‘host of golden daffodils.’ From the middle of February, I’m on high alert, waiting for these sure-fire signs that spring is finally here. Sadly, the blossoms and the daffodils don’t last for very long, and as they move onto the next phase of nature, I move on too. Forgetting about the wondrous colours, until the start of next year when I will wait again.
I don’t notice the trees at any other time, even though they spend the summer months sprouting brilliant green décor. My attention is taken up by the shiny, short-lived flowers.
Our yoga practice can be a bit like this too, we don’t pause along the journey to appreciate the small steps, instead we’re looking for the end product. I’ve been waiting years to be able to execute a picture-perfect wheel pose, but instead of focussing on the end result, I’ve slowed down and examined the component parts which make up this advanced and picturesque pose.
We can only be beginners once, after that we have an idea of what to expect and while physical progress can be laborious the understanding of why we practice comes on leaps and bounds each time we step onto our mats. For me this means enjoying the unique gift of having tight shoulders and hip flexors, taking time to work on loosening and opening up each day and giving myself a break. While I’m waiting for the elusive end product, I am trying to enjoy the view on the way there, because I know that once I tick that wheel pose off my list I will start working towards an even more advanced backbend. The journey never ends and taking time to pause and appreciate all the small steps I’ve taken towards my goal makes it more beautiful even if I never get there.
I might never arch my back into wheel pose with perfectly straight arms, but I’m not yet prepared to give up on this goal. Will this achievement make me a better person, an amazing yoga teacher or a super-supportive friend? Not at all, but I will learn so many valuable lessons on the way that it is so worthwhile to keep pushing ahead.
Instead of waiting for whatever is to come, maybe we should take a step back and look at how far we’ve came, appreciate the journey that we are on and allow ourselves to be grateful for where we are right now. So I’m going to enjoy watching those trees change into their spring outfits, while wearing my beautiful shoes and I will enjoy every second of the process.