Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Falling out of Flying Pigeon Whilst Teaching

Kristin Olson in Flying Pigeon Pose by Jasper Johal

Yep. The day has come when I demo'd an arm-balance pose and it went south. Head smashing into the ground sort of south. Crumpling into ones shoulder and rolling sideways sort of south. Students asking if I am okay sort of south.

If this would of happened to me as a new teacher, I wouldn't been able to collect myself and finish the class with any sort of style or grace. The shame and embarrassment would have been tattooed on my face. You know how over-sensitive and fragile you are as a new teacher.

But, I am not a new teacher anymore. I am also not in a hot flashy yoga town full of freaking far-out-amazing yogis. Nor, does my arm-balance/inversions series cost 45-65 dollars for one class like Kathryn Budig or Seane Corn. Nope, just me. Little ol' me in my awesome little town, full of real, earnest, down to earth, ready-to-learn students.

It is interesting to see how I have shifted as a teacher in the last seven years. I am not trying to prove anything anymore. I show up and offer what I got that day. And I am genuinely beyond happy that my body is still able to do yoga, and my mind is still in tact to teach it. And, after years of teaching, many of times to classes with three or less students, I am very happy to have a room full of students!

I am just a mom who has been painfully humbled by my children, humbled by responding to their constant needs and demands, no matter how trivial or brain-numbing they may be. I am also someone who has some strange misfortune (karma) that has landed me with the world's most poopiest kids. Between running to one end of the house to wipe a butt, to finishing cleaning up after the baby's poop, to running into the bathroom to wash my hands for the zillionth time, then repeat it three or four more times a day. This combined with the dumping the cloth diapers into the washing machine and drying and putting them away, sometimes I feel like my day if but one of poop. (Which reminds me, I need to put the cloth dipes on the rinse cycle when I finish pumping out this post. No joke.)

The Queen of Poop herself, the Domestic Yogi

So, after a day of poop, it is refreshing to get out of the house and talk to adults about how to do some fun yoga poses that require lifting both your feet off the floor and balancing on your hands and maybe your head. Not only is it refreshing, but such a honor and privilege. Especially when I watch others struggle to learn the poses I demonstrate. I realize how blessed I am that I have never struggled with arm-balances or inversions.

That is why landing on my head whilst demonstrating flying pigeon pose yesterday sent me into laughter. Because, quite frankly it was funny. It was like watching America's Funniest Videos when the dad trips head over heals hitting his nuts in the process. It is just not supposed to happen. And it is funny.

I advised my students at the beginning of the 3-class series to try hard, but try harder not to take yourself too seriously. Laughter is good medicine. It helps you recover more easily. 

In more yogic terms, laughter helps to bring you back to your center, or safe place/comfort zone. When are rooted back in your center, then you can go on to try new things with renewed strength again. Otherwise your attempts will be tainted with emotions like anger, shame, self-doubt or fear. If there is a group of poses who do not bode well while harboring strong emotions in them, it is ... yep....arm balancing and inversions.

When your mind is unbalanced with emotions, it is really hard to balance on your hands or head. These are poses you really want to attempt with a clear head, or you might literally land on your head (like me).

It is a metaphor for life I suppose. It teaches you to clear your head before doing something difficult.

That is why I love arm-balances and inversions. They help you let go of the emotions that are holding you back. Like for me, it isn't fear, but ego. I have been learning, the hard way, to just let go and enjoy. I guess I just needed perspective (thanks poop karma).

Arm-balances and inversions help us to find their inner physical and mental strength. Once you got that, the bliss is finding that sweet softness and surrender of a challenging pose, so you can experience the lightness and effortlessness.

I loved teaching this class. I have so much to be happy for. Even to fall, hopefully with an iota of grace, to the floor, head first. Crumple. Roll. Laugh.

It happens. It is funny. I am not perfect. I am not the best. I still got embarrassed. It's just that I am able to see through it. Recover.

And hopefully by falling, I inspired my students to try and be okay if they fall. Get up, try again. That is what I teach my children too. Keep trying that is all you can do.

So my blog readers, and my yoga students, that is all I can do. Keep doing yoga, teaching, writing and loving myself and others for all that they are, accidents and flaws and our beauty.


(off to finish off those cloth diapers now...)


  1. I enjoyed this... thank you, as a yoga teacher, I too enjoy the beauty of "real" students, those that try, whose downdogs, inversions, pigeons don't look anything like the magazines or yoga ads. If you are interested in my story check out mpc Yoga for ALL on facebook or my blog One day the kids will not be pooping so much and you will miss it, mine are now 22, 16, and 13 and the 13 year old with muscular dystrophy's downward facing dog pose with Matthew Sanford still is the most beautiful asana I've ever seen!

  2. I am totally in awe of your strength Sam, really amazing.

  3. Thanks Michele! It's true, I do enjoy that I get to build long-lasting relationships with my kids by staying home with them. They are awesome kids who constantly make me laugh, between the poos. I love your blog, and it sounds like you are doing really amazing work in Tennessee!

  4. I just landed on your blog. I'm a mom of two (4 yrs. old & 15 months), a new yoga teacher, and I started a blog while on mat leave. Needless to say, I can so relate to you!!
    I loved the rawness of this post. As a new yoga teacher, my ego gets in the way sometimes and as much as I encourage my students to be loving & kind to themselves first, I can't say I always take my own advice. I consider myself 'Practice in Progress'. Thx for your post. It lightened my heavy thoughts.

    1. Thank you so much! I lightens my heart that I can connect others in this way! :) Good luck with all that you do and keep shining your light!