Typically I tune out any conversation about birds. Frankly, I find them disgusting. But in yoga, a recent obsession of mine, names of birds are often used to describe different poses. For this practice alone, I give birds pardon, in fact, the poses with bird names are surprisingly my favorites. There's the hip-opener–half pigeon–and the twisted, bendy eagle pose. And then there is bird of paradise, or bird of pain as I referred to it, until last week.
Bird of paradise starts out as something simple, extended side angle, but then, just like a bird, it takes flight into a stretching, balancing act of awkwardness I didn't even consider trying. Oh I saw the other girls whipping their legs into the air, feet flexed, tail-bone tucked. Teachers' pets, I thought, I can't do it, I thought. I will stay lounging here in my side angle until I breathe my required five breaths, and then we'll move on like bird of paradise flew right out the window.
Maybe it was a burst of energy that helped me to clasp my hands together that day, maybe it was my new yoga capris that allowed my leg to point, I'll never know. I do know that afternoon, there was one more bird of paradise in the studio.
For me this means more than increasing the flexibility of my hamstrings. It dares me to get past intimidation and fear. There are a lot of things I don't know how to do, things I see other people accomplishing that I have yet to master and am apprehensive to try. But what if I never attempted them? What if I settled for side angle all my life? I would never fly.
Written by: Erika Fifelski was born and raised in West Michigan, and after a brief stint on the sunrise side, she's home and loving it. Erika enjoys cooking, sewing, vacuuming, and discovering new ways to live sustainably and support local businesses.