E-volve: Bodies in Motion Tend to Stay in Motion



 verb, e·volved, e·volv·ing.

verb (used with object)


to develop gradually: to evolve a scheme.

to give off or emit, as odors or vapors.
verb (used without object)


to come forth gradually into being; develop; undergo evolutionThe whole idea evolved from a casualremark.

Biology to develop by a process of evolution to a different adaptive state or condition: The humanspecies evolved from an ancestor that was probably arboreal.
I had a great talk with an old friend who I did my first yoga teacher training with. We were laughing about ourselves back then. How weak we were! I couldn’t do plank pose at all when I started yoga. No, really, I would just collapse into a puddle. How unhealthy we were! We both smoked cigarettes and hung out in bars. I can’t even imagine that now.
Today, looking back to when I started teaching in 2004, the changes I’ve made are nearly unbelievable. If I had met my current self back in 2004, I would not have recognized me as a potential form of myself. As in, I didn’t think I had it in me. I couldn’t quit smoking. Chatturanga Dandasana? Handstand in the middle of the room? impossible! 
But that’s the ‘duh’ thing about EVOLVING: it doesn’t happen all at once. Some small changes happen quickly, but evolution takes time. I of course DID eventually quit smoking. How? I kept trying. Meaning I continually failed and attempted again and again (failing over and over again) until lasting change took hold. 
Evolution isn’t quick, and it’s really not comfortable. Comfort is what you can already do. To make a shift, you have to butt up against your edge. It’s awkward. It creates friction and resistance. It’s easier to do what you already know. But that’s not really the path of yoga. 
Yoga is about digging in to those shadowy places. It’s about getting ok with being bad at something. You gotta get down with: FIRST, where you are, and SECOND where you want to be. In between here and there, there’s some slow going. Some insights come quickly (I was strong in plank pose within two months of starting yoga!), and some take more time (freestanding handstand took six years). To borrow a phrase from one of my teachers Darren Rhodes: “to get stronger, you need to feel weak.” You’ve gotta feel like you’re failing; that’s the evolutionary edge. 

So when I look back to when I first started yoga, the small changes have piled up to the point that the person I am now is markedly evolved. Unrecognizable.

In 2012 I had a goal to land parsva kukkutasana (revolved lotus arm balance) from sirsasana (headstand). Lotus is NOT an easy pose for me; back up a few years, and lotus was impossible, because I was instantly stopped by knee pain. I had to slowly first learn alignment and anatomy to open my hips without stressing my knees. Once there, I worked lotus upside down for a good year. Last year, I worked on the transition, largely unsuccessfully, on and off throughout the year. By December 31, it hadn’t happened and I took a break. 

I came back to it earlier this year, and the below video is from April, when I successfully landed it for the first time on both sides.  Now I’m working on longer holds, and straightening my arms. The practice reminds me to aim high, yet do the daily work to evolve and move forward.
Bodies in motion tend to stay in motion! Let me know what your highest goal is, and what you’re going to do this week to step towards it.