Be not the slave of your own past. Plunge into the sublime seas, dive deep and swim far, so you shall come back with self-respect, with new power, with an advanced experience that shall explain and overlook the old. –Ralph Waldo Emerson
Let's go swimming.
Will you plunge into a metaphorical pool of water with me? Come on! It will be cool. Don’t be too cool for my metaphorical pool.
Whether you are going in for a quick dip or committed to some serious laps I would like you to consider what needs to be done to get in the water.
In Austin, TX we have a beautiful (really beautiful) spring-fed pool that is 68 degrees year round. Barton Springs pool- voted best swimming hole in Texas (hi mom!) and a place of great solace for me among many others I am sure.
Since I grew up in Austin I have had the privilege of meeting these cold waters since I was a child. Each time I walk my bare feet up to the edge I am flooded with possibilities, choices. I am distracted and attracted by so many things around me. The blue sky. The people that remembered their floats. A cute bathing suit – is that J. Crew? A kind smile. A breeze. A character. A baby. The blistering sun. The gal I sat next to in AP English.
As little Adriene, I remember leaping in. Over and over and over again. As a young teenager, I recall being absolutely fearful of jumping right in. Self-conscious. You hear whispers of the “right way” to get in the pool. “It's better to just jump in!” “I have to move in slowly” “I’m gonna dive!” (Sound of whistle blows loud and long.) “No diving!” Then there is always that dude. That dude that thought it was cool and flirtatious to throw you in. I cannot say that I hate that dude because this is a yoga blog. But, I hate that dude.
In my adult years, I have come to cherish this moment. The moment that I charge down the hill in my bikini following the momentum of my body down the steep hill. The moment that my feet hit the hot pavement and I approach the water. I enjoy observing those around me. I give out smiles and I feel confident in this moment. I look forward to meeting and greeting the cool water. How will I react today? I have only recently discovered that how I meet and greet that cold ass water is something to pay attention to. I see now that my internal state affects my experience of getting in the water. To get in- I simply- GET IN. To enjoy it, I listen to my heart. I make it fun. Some days I break the rules and DIVE IN! Other days I hop in holding the hand of a friend like in a hip romantic b rated movie. Some hot summer days I cannot get in fast enough. From time to time, I slowly walk in like a proud mermaid. (Merman! MerMAN!!!)
So what does need to be done for you to get in the water? Can you just jump in? Do you prefer to ease in? What do you need to start a yoga practice or to get back to one? What can you do to get over that hump and start enjoying life? Enjoying our workouts, our meditations? We all deserve to have a good time at the party.
If you are standing at the edge – watching this video- seeking ease or a happier healthier body… let's jump in. Standing Forward Fold is a posture that I recommend you try. Swim with it. Dive in or take it slow but be mindful- internally.
When we practice supporting ourselves internally as opposed to externally we create a strong base for ourselves in that moment of decision. We create a strong foundation internally so that we are equipped to meet the external and handle the challenges of life or of other poses. It is through this internal support that we are also able to really reap the benefits of our practice. Remember the old adage, “Stop and smell the roses.”
Uttanasana provides a great opportunity for immersion. We bring our focus inward. It is something you can do anywhere and a pose that will help you to develop a strong stabilizing foundation for other standing postures.
This pose is often overlooked and under enjoyed. Swim in this posture- especially if you are a beginner and practice this fold once a day – at least as an experiment. How do you choose to meet and greet this posture? How can you internally support it?
Remember to breathe. Visualize your vertebrae as you slowly move into the posture. Close your eyes and swim. Don’t get stuck in the external- you will sink. Keep moving. Find that liquid spine and swim in the sensations. You may not touch your toes on the first go- but give it time. Get in the pool. Hop on the mat. “Practice and all is coming”