It’s not perfect. In fact, it’s not even that good. But this is my wheel pose. Urdhva dhanurasana.
Until very recently, I avoided wheel pose at all costs. Anytime I tried, my body was just like “NOPE! Not happening.” So instead of trying, I’d just succumb to bridge pose while also getting mad frustrated.
Yoga teacher training was the first time I started playing around with the pose, determined AF to conquer the sucker. I wanted so badly to pop up into this pose, but I couldn’t even get off the ground.
During a backbend intensive workshop we were doing with a guest teacher, I legit broke down in tears during the wheel pose portion. I kept thinking:
“WHAT GIVES BODY? You’re supposed to be strong, you’re a freaking personal trainer! Why can everyone do this except me???”
And then I got into the pose for a millisecond before immediately coming back down. That’s when the waterworks happened.
I had never cried in a yoga class before. Sure, I’ve gotten weepy during an especially inspiring SoulCycle class and fairly often when I used to visualize the finish line of the NYC Marathon during long runs last year.
But during yoga class? Nah.
Maybe if I flip and face the camera the other way? Nope, nope nope, still a really sad attempt at wheel pose…
Wheel pose is freaking hard for me. I have limited mobility in my shoulders– hi, super tight chest! On top of that, heart openers are real vulnerable. Getting into that pose for a millisecond that day essentially cracked me open, hence the waterworks.
Since becoming a yoga teacher, I’ve felt even more vulnerable and self conscious in my own practice during yoga classes. If I go to a class with a friend I wonder if they’re thinking, “Wow, Kayla should be a lot better at this considering she’s a yoga teacher.”
Yeah, I’ve been a personal trainer for 4+ years. Push-ups and burpees I can do, confidently. Strength has always come easily for me.
Yoga does not come easily for me. I have flexibility issues and the sad truth is, I may never be the yoga teacher that has cool “party tricks” to show off.
In this day and age of instagram yogis, I feel like a lame fraud of a yoga teacher because I have nothing “cool” to show off. Also, there’s certainly no shortage of yoga teachers in this city.
So, what does it mean to be a yoga teacher when you’re not very “good” at yoga?
I don’t have the answer to that question just yet and it’s something I’m still grappling with internally.
Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana, my hamstrings and I despise you.
For me yoga has never been about the party tricks, inversions and fancy balancing poses. I might’ve started doing yoga because I wanted to get more flexible (I’m still working on that…) but luckily I learned that there’s more to do it than just doing cool shit.
I wanted to become a yoga teacher for a myriad of reasons; because I couldn’t stop thinking about it, because I craved hands on education to supplement my experience as a personal trainer, and even because I’m not good at yoga.
And also because I wanted to end the stigma of what an NYC yogi can be. I can’t do a handstand nor can I hold wheel pose for more than a millisecond. I’m inflexible, uptight and not particularly zen. I am actively working on the very things I preach about in my classes– focusing on the breath and being in the moment.
But I’m still a yoga teacher.
Question: What yoga poses do you struggle with or feel the most vulnerable in?