Being a snail is scary



Mel Howard | January, 22 2016

I have been haphazardly practicing yoga now coming onto six years and instead of blabbering on for pages about my limited understanding of it, I’ll say simply that every person will come into their own yogi flow and happiness. I also firmly believe it’s something you can never officially be ‘good’ at.

‘But I’m not flexible’ people say to me, ‘I can’t touch my toes’, neither could I when I started. Well, I kinda could, but it hurt. Achieving little things like toe touching is great, achieving the bigger poses like your first wheel or a solid dancer are even better. What I mean when I say you can never be ‘good’ at yoga is that achieving a pose is never the point; the point is being in the pose. Pushing it. Opening it. Squeezing it. Breathing your heart into it and perhaps floating away right above it. That happens only when you are present and your goal isn’t to look the best, it’s to push your best and that is why you’re never good at it, you’re just happy, or not concentrating.

This week I started at a studio in Byron because it had an incredible two months for two people for $200 deal. I hate that money becomes the deciding factor in so many things that I know are good for me but at the same time there are so many in Byron it did make it easier to pick one.

I’ve been four times so far and each class has had completely different standout moments like this one. Today’s was snail pose. To give you a visual, snail pose is a simple straight backed seated pose, legs engaged in front of you, hands helping you lift from the crown and then curling the head as close as you can to the knees. Snail pose (I imagine) because you curl like its shell. It looks familiar, I’ve done the old forward fold extension from the hips and heart over the legs, but as I curled my crown in toward my heart I felt the clench in my chest. My breathing quickened. My blood pumped harder. Immediately I started sweating. It astounds me how my own body can play me like this. Turn on a dread that apparently has been residing in my back until now, waiting for this moment to rear its unknown fear into my heart. Usually when this happens I pull out in shock, but this morning I sat still. Inhaled and exhaled and tried to work out what this fear was. Tears in my eyes. Panic in my mind telling me to quit. Breathe in and out, in and out. Slowly and calmly still hot and scared but there it is, I see it lighten in front of me, the unknown, the new. I push a little further, round a little harder on the exhale, it jolts back hard into my chest, inhale, I’ve never been here before, it’s new but I’m doing it, I’m here. I did it. All the things I said I would, I did it. Suddenly the pose is bigger than this class, it’s more than yoga. What’s living in my back is all the fear of starting something new.  Of letting go of the past, the good and the bad that comes with a home and leaving it. It’s the deserved acknowledgment of achieving what you said you would, because I’m only just realising now that I rarely do and it’s monumentally important.

‘Slowly inhale as you curl back out of it, lift your crown through the spine’ Geoff is calling me back to my body. The fear isn’t completely gone but it now means something entirely different. Because it’s known, I’ll expect it. I’ll look out for it, and from here on out snail pose will be a challenge that reminds me to acknowledge my achievements and my strength.

Ananta are celebrating their fifth birthday this year and if you’re in town, do yourself a favour and spend as much time as you can spare between here and the beach. I’ll be the panic stricken newbie in the corner smiling through it all. Please say hello, I’ll probably need a hug. Or a vino.

Click here for Ananta Yoga: Ananta 


[Credits: Words by Mel Howard and Illustration by Juliet Sulejmani]


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