Pinch-AAARRGH! – #3 by Mario Toon

It has been 7 weekends since the start of my YTT. How time flies when you’re thoroughly enjoying yourself.

This past weekend marked the return of Jessica, who was away in China. In her absence Alexis worked with us, and damn, what an experience it was. Granted, I’ve been a regular at this studio for a while now, but seeing Alexis lead us through the past few weeks made me reflect a lot on myself, who I am now, and who I want to be in the future.

In my first blog post I briefly mentioned my first encounter with Alexis, and having her as our YTT instructor was a such a stark difference from when we first met: The lessons about providing students a healthy and safe environment to learn, how to deliver a class by speaking and giving instructions in a positive, energetic manner, and of course, the need to do yoga with a SMILE. 🙂

Before the YTT I practiced yoga by focusing only on myself, but as an instructor, what needs to be done is the exact opposite: Students are the number one priority for the duration of the class. Being responsible for someone else’s safety and physical well-being is no small task. As an individual who aspires to teach yoga, on top of being someone who has been injured due to personal negligence, this is something I take very seriously.

But before I can do that, I had to learn how to come out of my comfort zone.

I’ve always considered myself as a Jack of all trades. My interests are varied, ranging from competitive sports to making music, from being an avid gamer to someone who thoroughly enjoys the thrill of fishing. I made sure I knew just enough to be good at what I do. I was, however, never great at anything. I would be physically and emotionally invested in the things I do, but never committed enough to put in that final 10% to achieve greatness, as that usually required me coming out of my comfort zone. “Ehhhh, I’m good enough as it is. What’s the point of being great? It’s lonely at the top,” I’d say to myself. A convenient excuse for myself to accept my innate urge to remain in my comfort zone.

However, since we started doing alignments in class a few weeks ago, I realised it’s not an option anymore. By letting the instructor conduct hands-on alignment application, a student gives the instructor their trust and confidence, and all it takes is one wrong move to break it, or worse, cause an injury. Having to do alignments in class means I’ll always have to be at my 100%.

We also worked on our forearm stands and handstands this past weekend, how to safely practice them, fall out of them, and help students with it. I’ve been working on handstands for a few months by now, but I wasn’t comfortable with the idea to seriously work on pincha. Being a guy, it’s really hard for me to hold the pose for an extended period of time (ie. anything more than 5 seconds), due to the lack of flexibility in my shoulders and chest.

It was tough. The first time I’ve ever done a pincha was about a week before I broke my hand 2 Decembers ago, and I had immense difficulty getting into it after recovery. Pincha Mayurasana was one of the poses I told myself that I probably wouldn’t be able to nail, and by the end of the Saturday session I was battered, physically and emotionally.

I could barely go into a handstand on Sunday too. My chest, shoulders, upper back, glutes, and legs were all sore from the day before. As I trudged home after class I came to a pleasant realisation: I broke out of my comfort zone yet again.

My whole yoga journey was a constant breaking out of comfort zones. I broke out of my comfort zone when I first practicing yoga, when I made myself get into difficult poses like Pigeon, when I first started doing alignments, and now, while practicing pincha and how to fall out of it.

As glad as I am to be have taken yet another tiny step in my yoga journey, there will be many more ahead, and I will strive to take each of them with less excuses, and with the positivity as I have with this last one.