Off Your Mat

Bringing yoga off your mat into your life, one pose at a time.


The Unexpected Pose


There are times during studio practice that the instructor will stray from the usual series and try something new.

Early in my practice this is how I was introduced to side bound crow (bakāsana variation).

I felt a twinge of irritation when we were instructed to take this crow variation. I just wanted the class I expected. I wanted to stay on track and not get distracted by this unfamiliar pose. Dutifully, I followed the instructor’s step by step instructions. The pose felt awkward, my muscles trembled, I could not find my sweet spot. For a split second I held the pose, then I plopped on my mat with a thump, embarrassed. I will not pretend that I came away from that moment feeling accomplished.

The next time an opportunity to take that pose came up I wasn’t thrilled, but I was more willing to attempt it. Soon it became part of my practice.

If I had let that twinge of irritation guide my decision-making, I would have never started down the road to learning the pose. My first steps were difficult and a little bit humiliating. I chose to shed those negative interpretations of being new at something. That allowed me to grow.

Life can hand us challenges that we never dreamed we would face. You might be offended that life has presented you with something outside of your plans. The prospect of surmounting a particular task might leave you feeling exhausted, angry or heartbroken. Worst of all, a change of plans can be frightening.


As terrifying as it may be, if you don’t take on the challenge, if you hide from it, if you ignore it, if you explain it away with rationalizations, you will never thrive.

In these moments, you have to see past your plans and understand there might be something better in the offing that can only be reached through the unexpected.