“Success is moving from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill
What happens when you fall out of a pose? What is your initial reaction to perceived failures? This sentiment declared by Churchill describes what happens in yoga. He pinpoints the process by which we all learn by making mistakes. In yoga practice, we learn to fail often and fail fast and by doing so, accelerate our learning curve. Every time we fall out of a pose, or learn to arrive in more steady and easy alignment in the pose, we are expanding our awareness. Yoga is the process whereby we make seen the previously unnoticed habits of mind. In doing so, we can gently shed the habits that are not conducive to living our intentions and begin cultivating the habits of mind that are helpful in pursuing our dreams.
When I first began practicing yoga, when I fell out of a yoga pose, I would simply stand idle waiting for the next pose to be called. It was as if I failed at this attempt at the pose so I must sit out of the practice until the class moved on to the other side. I had so internalized our binary culture of success and failure that I felt like I could not try again. I believed that I had failed at this attempt, as if I only had one shot at the pose, and if I fell, it was over. However, in practicing this way, I was cutting the learning process short and stealing away from my potential to grow in my practice.
Thankfully, early on in my yoga practice, I was instructed by my teachers to be unwavering in my perseverance when practicing my asanas. I learned to immediately reset and get back into the pose without missing a beat. I began to watch my reaction to falling out of the pose, smile at any judgment and resistance that might arise, and simply re-engage with my breath as I moved back into the asana.
Being able to fall and get back up without losing our zest for the moment is a highly valuable skill. Learning to try again with enthusiasm is a real-life superpower that can help us achieve more than we ever dreamed possible. There is a Chinese proverb, “Fall down seven times, get up eight.” If we can remember this, then we will greet each time we fall with delight, because we will see it as another learning opportunity instead of an obstacle or a failure. I invite you to adopt this attitude in your practice and enjoy the benefits as this way of being becomes your mode of operating.