Shoulder stand is my favorite pose. I consider it the Queen of all poses, because it requires engagement of basically every part of my body. What I love about the classes at TYC (The Yoga Collective AK) is that the instructors find ways to make all of the poses accessible through the use of props and clever cues. Over the five years I have been practicing yoga, shoulder stand has come to be my measuring stick of my progress. A great example of this progress was captured in a recent class with Amanda Mack.
In the first photo, my torso wasn’t quite vertical, so my alignment was not straight (a nice way to say my butt was sticking out).
From there we moved into Plow pose, with an emphasis on keeping the core engaged and the torso strong and vertical.
Coming out of plow, I went back into shoulder stand. Initially my torso was nice and straight (building off of plow), but my legs were too far forward, once again keeping me from accomplishing a truly vertical posture.
With a small adjustment by Amanda, and some kind words of encouragement from the others in class, I was finally able to find a vertical position. Voilà - Shoulder Stand!
What is most important to me is not that I was able to perform a picture worthy shoulder stand. It was that throughout this sequence, my mind was fully connected to my body. I was in the moment, feeling the pose and making small adjustments; micro movements in both my body and my mind. I think this is what yoga teaches us. In life, progress is slow and sometimes imperceptible. It is built through daily micro-adjustments, with lots of support and guidance from those around us. So thank you TYC, Amanda and shoulder stand for reminding me that real progress is made up of lots of small changes, and all I have to do is be willing to show up.