Hasta Padangusthasana – Hand-Toe Posture

“I’ve always been kind of flexible,” I lied.  I didn’t mean to lie to the man who huffed and puffed for an hour next to me during our yoga practice.  It was a test to see how I’ve changed from the person in yoga class who used to take pride in her flexible and graceful movements into the person who is really trying to learn and apply the principles of yoga into her life.  One of these lessons is to not “show off.”  That is not what yoga is.  People will learn about how yoga could help them through me, by seeing the difference it has made in my life, but we should never go out of our way to demonstrate such a thing.  That is not helping others. 

After class, while putting on my boots, Cyrus asked me how I was able to do that one move and balance while I held my toes and moved my leg from the front to the side.  I didn’t know how to answer him.  I surely didn’t look like the lady in the picture.  My leg was more at a right angle, I thought to myself, not nearly like what it should be.  But I couldn’t say such a thing.  I could only say that of course, I couldn’t always do that.  In fact, have you ever tried doing it next to a wall?,  I offered.  It really helps gain balance.  But that’s not how I really started learning that pose.  Rather than sit there and tell him how I think I was able to do it, I took a shortcut.  I lied by accident.  I’m not flexible like a gymnast, so why did I say that?  I didn’t want him to feel bad that he wasn’t flexible.  I wanted him to feel good about his practice.  I felt bad that he was watching me.  I didn’t mean to show off, but while I was doing the pose I was so happy that my body was improving in front of my eyes.  (Unfortunately, there is a mirror at the gym).  I asked him questions about his practice, we had a quiet exchange of what I hope was encouragement, and I left wondering, how could I have replied differently?