I want to be a yoga teacher someday in the not-so-distant future.
I understand that yoga teachers do not have to be able to do every pose well, but I have the expectation that as a yoga teacher I would at least be able to touch my toes. As of autumn 2015 when I put the list together, touching my toes was out of reach. When I began tracking my practice on January 3, 2015, my fingertips could not touch the mat without my legs bent. And there was great pain when I attempted it. I would do my daily yoga practice for a full two months before my legs would straighten in a forward bend. TWO months. To be able to now at 41 (one day shy) be able to touch my toes pretty much every day seems like an enormous achievement.
I purposely did not make “touch my toes” the goal because, honestly, I wasn't convinced it could happen. After all, for the ten years that I danced ballet, tap, and jazz as a youth and teenager, touching my toes was almost always out of reach. Yoga has taught me a lot about accepting where I am on a given day and in the case of forward bends, where my tight hamstrings are in the process. I knew that a daily practice of yoga would over time have to help improve my forward bend. The yoga mindset let it be okay with whatever progress came my way.
Four years ago I really wanted to be able to do the splits. In those four years, I have come to learn that not every body can do every yoga pose. My long tight legs just might not be the “splitting” kind, and I've made peace with that. Being flexible and loose enough to touch my toes regularly seems much more important to maintaining a strong, healthy body than being able to do the splits as I age.
Moving into 2016, I will continue to work on improving my forward bend. I have new things to which I aspire. Now that getting my fingertips to the mat with straight legs happens pretty much every day, my new milestone will be to place my hands flat on the floor when I bend forward. I know the power of consistent practice and incremental progress, so I don't have a deadline on when that will happen. I trust that in time, it will.
Photos made possible by the selfie stick my observant eight-year-old purchased for me at her Winter Warehouse gift experience at school. I am including all of my attempts because I think it's hilarious. What's most important to point out for the purposes of this post: My hands are touching my toes, and my legs are straight.