If You Can...


So much power packed into three, very small word. IF YOU CAN…

This phrase or some version similar to it comes second nature to a yoga teacher. We are gifted with the opportunity and responsibility to hold space for you during your practice, and encourage you to allow your practice to meet you where you’re at. One key piece to this is the gentle reminder for each practitioner to honor his or her body (Ahimsa), and do what feels good and serving, but non harming. When the class is led into prasarita paddottonasana (standing wide legged forward fold) you might hear me follow with, “If tripod headstand is part of your practice, please feel free to go there now, as you’re able.” Or in vrksasana tree pose, “If it’s accessible to you today, bring the foot to the upper thigh for bound ardha padmasana, half lotus variation.”

These are all well and good. Sometimes we attempt that variation, sometimes we let it pass. But how often do we actually take pause to receive and be grateful for the permission to do so? Not just on our mats, but in our everyday lives?

This week I was on the mat with a group of very energetic, fun, creative elementary yogis celebrating Saint Patrick’s day by sharing what’s worth more to us than gold, letting students be teachers, and of course using the parachute because…why not?! When the time came for me to learn and one dervish of a 1st grader to teach (tree pose, in 3 steps or less, quite a challenge!), he very competently directed the way, pausing for a moment before the final step, and so gently saying “…if you can.”

Bam! Wow! This is IT! I’ve had the blessing of working with hundreds of kids of all ages and this is the first time that a student-being-teacher has ever granted permission for their charges to only do it, if they can. Why, pray tell, can a child of single digits understand such a simple yet significant piece of living that so many of use more seasoned members of society often forget?

Fast forward to today…an outing with a new friend and mentor which led us unto conversations on professionalism and career, what has shaped us (for better or worse) into who we are today, compassion, humility, hilarity, gratitude, acceptance. It comes full circle to the very, same, thing! We are all different beings, moving through this life at different paces, with different goals, different experiences, different methods to our madness. Why is it so challenging, especially for peers, to support and encourage one another? Has our society bred such an innate sense of competitiveness that we are viewed as weak for being kind and generous vice self serving and anything goes on the way to the top?

Tricky, this business of living, loving, learning. Said conversation with said company also brought about a mutual friend who is no stranger to challenge but lives life everyday with a bright smile, infectious nature, fun outlook on life, happy disposition. The struggle to say positive should not be this tough ya’ll. And gratitude is the first and continuous step to accepting each and every moment as it comes, seeing any situation as an opportunity to choose your perspective, and really, at the root of it all, just LIVING your life.

Grant yourself that permission to qualify some of life with “if you can…” Because you don’t always NEED to or HAVE to. Busier isn’t always better, more isn’t always a blessing, introspection isn’t always selfish. Start erasing that line between black and white into a grey area.

This one was a big ramble, but so are my thoughts these days. We’ll call it expansive creative thought!


PS-Per the new norm, why I chose this photo…This is after finishing the Guam Perimeter Relay in 2010. Several of us gals banded together to do a 48 mile loop around the southern end of the island. We had runners of all abilities…the only pre-requisites were desire to be on a team, and let’s admit it…be a wee bit crazy. The gentlemen in the photo were part of another team also running. They were struggling. A few of their guys were will prepared for the intensity of the event. But they were in good spirits. We often chatted with their team at the check points, encouraged one another, and had a few laughs along the way. With just a few legs to go, it was painfully obvious to them and us that they were going to finish last, and the motivation was waning. Our team captain has never left a man or woman behind (literally, army veteran, or figuratively). She made the decision that WE would finish WITH THEM. Putting us in a tie for dead last. Could we have beat them? Yes. Did we need to? No. There was nothing prove. We all jumped in for the fun of it, not for any promise of victory and all the spoils. (Although we DID score sweet happy meals after the event…and got the shirt to prove we did it).

Friends, CAN does not always equate to SHOULD. Chew on that.