teacher feature – Susanna Montezemolo

my first experience with yoga was not a positive one. I was in Mrs. Kennedy’s gym class in 10th grade, and I remember her dragging us to the basement of my high school, having us sit on concrete, and trying to get us to bring our foot behind our head. At the time, I thought, “is this a joke? Let’s get back to basketball and soccer!” I was one of the few who loved gym class, but I thought the yoga module, with its focus on flexibility that I did not have, was simply tortuous.

Fast forward several decades, and I now seek to practice yoga every day. In fact, I believe that yoga is the elixir of my life. Today, I realize that yoga is so much more than practicing advanced asanas. Yoga is about the process, not the end result.

For years, I struggled with arm balances. I would practice crow (bakasana) and be too scared about falling out to shift my weight forward.

It took courage, but eventually I did it and stayed up for 1/10th of a second. Then I worked up to one second, then two, and so on until today, when I can hold my crow with ease on most days. But I couldn’t do crow on day one; working on crow required countless sessions of trying it and not shifting my weight forward, or falling out, and or coming up for a split second before coming out of it. The process was a lot like life. It’s not always easy; it takes hard work; sometimes you don’t succeed right away. And that is the beauty of yoga. Practicing on your mat can help illuminate how to approach challenges off the mat.

In my home practice, I am currently working on koundinyasana, an arm balance. I’m in the “hold it for 1/10th of a second” phase. Reminding myself that yoga is about the process, not about the end result, has been very helpful for me as I struggle to open my hips and gain the arm strength necessary for this arm balance. I am confident that one day, I’ll build up to holding the pose for a full second, and then maybe even two, but in the meantime I am enjoying getting there.

Comments are closed.