When I was little, my sister and I came up with this game that we would play whenever we would go to the ocean (once a year). We would be so excited to get our feet in the sand and our toes wet that we couldn’t wait to put on a bathing suit. Fresh from a 12-hour car ride, we’d run down to the beach, still in our clothes, roll up our shorts even shorter and feel the waves crashing on our feet. Then, we would challenge each other by declaring in delight “Step farther!” and each of us would have to take a giant step forward into the ocean. Whoever chickened out first because they were afraid to get waved on lost. We would giggle and scream and then start all over again to see how far we could get into the ocean without getting scared.
Are you stepping forward or backward?
The idea of stepping farther into the unknown, willingly, into the risk of getting your clothes soaked and splashed by an unsuspecting wave (heaven forbid!) is such a great metaphor for the challenges we face on a daily basis in our adult lives. We so often are presented with opportunities to step forward and instead unconsciously, or consciously, hold ourselves back.
Where this shows up in our practice is in the all too common transition of stepping from Downward Facing Dog into Low Lunge.
I see many of my students struggle with this transition, and yes, there are some physical aspects that need to be addressed — strong core, flexible hip flexors — but for many of us we just aren’t in the right mindset to step forward successfully.
Step FORWARD into low lunge from Downward Facing Dog
When you’re going to step forward into a low lunge you can’t half-ass it. When you do, your body won’t get to where it needs to be to set yourself up in nice alignment for the upcoming postures. Then, you’re faced with the ungraceful and challenging task of figuring out how to muscles and rearrange your body to get your foot where you want it to be and it often takes you out of the “flow.” It can be frustrating.
To get your foot in between your hands from Downward Facing Dog in one smooth swoop, the entire body has to be on board. There is forward motion not just in the leg but in the shoulders, the chest, the other leg, the heart, the brain, the eyes, EVERYTHING. Are you whole-heartedly — body, mind, and soul — stepping forward? Or are you afraid that you won’t quite make it, don’t have what it takes, or are unsure of what you’re going to find when you get there and it’s easier to just stay safe where you are instead?
Today’s video talks about the mindset shift I want you to take from now on when you step your foot in between you hands. And like I said, there may be some physical limitations that will make it necessary for you to customize the transition for a while until you find the right balance of strength and flexibility in your own body. I’ve added in a few postures you can do to help you build strength in the core and flexibility in the psoas.
Remember you won’t do anything unless you first believe that you can do it!
Here’s to you stepping forward gracefully on your mat and in your life 🙂