We’ve seen how yoga can have a positive impact on people of all kinds. And of all the lessons we learn from yoga, perhaps that is one of the most important. That we might change, we may be different, but our practice is always there. Meet Tamara Levitt. She’s been on her own yoga journey and is now on a mission to bring awareness to the little ones through a children’s book she calls Happiness Doesn’t Come from Headstands.
Happiness Doesn’t Come from Headstands is a modern day story about the search for happiness, and one girl’s discovery that even in the face of failure, peace can be found.
Tamara is currently raising money to fund the project. Please read her story below and check out her kickstarter campaign running until October 15th here.
What to Do When You Can’t Get It Right (Life, Love Or That Damn Yoga Pose)
By Tamara Levitt
As a “recovering” perfectionist, failure has always been difficult for me. Be it a job interview, a relationship or getting into those skinny jeans, I’ve often struggled with getting “okay” with what I can’t get right.
I began doing yoga 20 years ago. I fell in love with it immediately. After spending my teenage years enduring the Jane Fonda workout and doing hardcore aerobics that wrecked my knees, Yoga was bliss for my body.
At that time, there was only one yoga studio in the city; that small warehouse space was my haven. Aside from loving the dance and meditation of Ashtanga practice, there was something else I liked: I was good at it. I was the one in the front row who could achieve every pose with ease.
Then, life happened. I got busy and didn’t have time to get to class, so I did my asana practice at home. And by the time I returned to studio classes (at which point they had opened on just about every corner) I had acquired injuries that had affected my practice and was far less flexible. Oh, the joy of aging.
Suddenly, I was not the one in the front and center. I was closer to the back and kind of off to the side. And to boot, everyone in class seemed to be able to do that damn Sirsha-asana (headstand) pose except for me. Cause Yoga is a competition, don’tchya know?
For me, Headstands have always been difficult. I’ve tried and tried again to no avail. My attempts often resulted in neck and back pain. For a time, I considered the pain a secondary issue, imagining that if I could just get it right, then the pain would cease. I persisted in my attempts to master the headstand. Two or three times, my injuries took me out of class for weeks.
I was a bad yogi, or so I thought. I couldn’t get it “right.” To me, having a failure meant that I was a failure.
Then one day, my feelings about headstands and my approach to Yoga changed significantly.
Maybe it was the fact that I was sick and tired of injuries, or perhaps I had finally become wise enough to really hear my teacher when he asked a question in class. He suggested to always ask ourselves “why” we feel a need to do a pose. If we couldn’t answer this question we shouldn’t be doing the pose.
And so I stopped trying to achieve Sirsha-asana because my answer wasn’t good enough: to get it right. I know there are incredible benefits to this pose, but it’s more important to honor my limitations than to achieve this asana for the benefits. This I when I began to do yoga properly.
It’s easy at times to forget that a huge part of Yoga practice is ‘practicing’ how to live off the mat.
Yoga is about self-acceptance. Yoga is about self-compassion. Yoga is about letting go of comparisons and learning that our achievements do not dictate our self worth. It’s about the process being equally important as the goal. Yoga is appreciating all that you can do and honoring all that you can’t.
That’s yoga. It’s not in any way about achieving any pose. Including a headstand.
Tamara Levitt a writer, artist, teacher and founder of Begin Within Productions. At her company Begin Within, she creates and produces multimedia entertainment content designed to foster self-awareness, emotional intelligence and interpersonal development.
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