Quick Links

The Yoga Report

Mantra Four: Consistency is Good

January 11, 2016

Tags: Yoga, Repose Yoga

Dolphin-challenged am I.

On the page, in demonstrations, dolphin pose doesn’t look that hard. Lower to your forearms, clasp your hands together lightly, shoot your butt up in the air keeping your legs straight. Inch your feet up the mat as far as you can. Not sure why, but my back is never straight, my legs want to bend, and as far as the feet go -- forget it. They are Gorilla-glued to the back of the mat. Perhaps the problem is psychosomatic: dolphin is a launch pose for … a headstand.

The dreaded inversion.

I have read all the tales of the power of turning oneself upside down. That we spend so much time sitting and standing that we need to upend our perspective. Inversions improve blood flow and help bodily systems connect more efficiently. Some even claim that inversions decrease anxiety and increase self-confidence.

I’d argue the opposite.

As other yogis gracefully raise their feet towards the ceiling, I kick like a donkey. Even against the wall, where inversion novices rehearse, I can’t get one foot above my waist, let alone two. With assistance, I once did a handstand but neglected to announce my return to earth and kicked my poor assistant in the nose. Stress reducer? Hardly.

During Saturday’s vinyasa class, one of the week’s hardest at Repose, we worked our way to dolphin. I tried. Briefly. But the feet wouldn’t move and the neck hurt and the arms screamed, “Stop!” And so I took Option 1: child pose. As others viewed the world upside down, I lay curled up, legs and head tucked safely underneath.

Ordinarily, I’m happy to opt out of inversions. Yet this choice felt cowardly. My yoga experiment – one month of daily classes – is only a week long but I do feel braver, more confident. The sequences are becoming routine. Reverse swan dive, hand to heart, forward bend. I can flow from Warrior One to Two to Three. I don’t have to check with my neighbor about triangle or side plank alignment. Even the Hindi terms – Utkatasana, Tadasana, Balasana – are beginning to stick. No longer do I think Chattanooga when I hear Chatauranga. I’ve even popped into wheel and held it for a few breaths.

I shouldn’t be surprised that yoga, like everything, becomes easier with repetition, that what once seemed foreign and unmanageable can become familiar and possible. Elizabeth Bennet wasn’t wrong when she told Mr. Darcy that to better his social skills all he need do was practice.

As I head into Week Two of this yoga journey, perhaps all I, like Jane Austen’s indomitable hero, need do is practice. Who knows? Some day my feet might even leave the floor.

Selected Works

Essay
Cold. Rain. Black flies. Biting dogs. What else could go wrong on this bike vacation?
Yankee Magazine
Alison Hardy has dedicated her career to saving antique windows.
Travel essay published in the anthology "Around the World."
How does one survive biking in Cambridge, the legendary English city of narrow, winding streets, congested traffic, bellowing drivers, and cows? Lots of cows.
Caught between caring for their parents and their own families, members of the sandwich generation struggle to cope with the many challenges of parenting a parent.
Can you be fit and fat? Contrary to common belief, yes you can.
Writer Sue Hertz explores a lifelong ambition – learning to sing on key. Can she? Will she?
With the help of an antiques dealer, nutritionist, and a medieval scholar, Carol Shea-Porter, who had never held public office, beat the Republican incumbent to represent her New Hampshire district in the U.S. Congress.
Remember the warmth, the closeness, the dailiness of the family meal? Neither do we. A Boston Magazine essay exploring the reasons behind the disappearing family dinner and the repercussions.
Hockey great Bobby Orr may have knees like no other, but that doesn't mean the rest of us haven't abused the joint beyond its intention.
Boston Globe Magazine cover story on the gentrification of this seaport city on the coast of New Hampshire
The New Hampshire Historical Society's regal home, one of the state's most renowned structures, celebrates its 100th birthday. The path to the creation of Concord's architectural gem was anything but smooth.
Book
Write Choices blasts through the boundaries between different forms of narrative nonfiction, focusing on the choices all writers of all forms make at every juncture, from choosing an idea, to collecting content, to creating a structure, to revising.
A powerful narrative illustrating the impact of abortion politics on women and health care workers.