A confession: Scorpion pose is freaking hard.
Back in February I shared my scorpion pose progress with the first two photos on the left. Each time a photo was taken I felt discouraged.
In the first picture, when I was in the pose, it honestly felt like my toes were almost to my head. While I was in it, my feet hanging precariously over my head, I remember feeling so excited doing something I'd never been able to do before. And then I saw the picture with the back that was barely bending and my tight hip flexors.
When the second picture was taken, I remember squinting at it, cocking my head to the side as I compared it with the first photo and wondered if it was an illusion, or if I had actually made progress. My toes didn't look like they were further toward my head but I could see an improvement in the spine and hip flexors.
The thing about yoga, the thing I have a love/hate relationship with - is that it doesn't lie. The yoga practice is brutally honest. It reflects the dedication and commitment..or the lack thereof. It reflects where you are mentally and emotionally, and it doesn't sugar coat anything.
A few months ago I got fed up with scorpion pose. I felt it wasn't coming despite all the practice I was putting in. So I had to stop overthinking it, overworking it, and just get out of my own way. And I took a break from scorpion pose. I focused on other things.
Like playing with sequencing, changing direction in the flow of a practice to get a different perspective. I practiced blindfolded and began teaching blindfolded yoga more often. I had a little love affair with twists and binds and yin. I took some master classes in LA. I practiced handstands and plank variations and basically everything under the sun except for scorpion pose, because I just needed a break from it.
And then about a week ago, I just felt like giving it a try again. It's the third picture, the one on the far right.
I looked at the picture on its own, without the other two. And immediately my heart sank. I saw my feet so far from my head, and instantly felt guilty for ignoring the pose for so long.
But then I put the it next to the other two and saw the change, the growth. The spine, especially the upper back, had become more flexible. The hip flexors had become more open. My arms looked stronger.
And no, my toes aren't touching my head. But that's not the point. It's not the point in any of this, I was reminded. Because the point, the goal of this whole thing is not the pose. It's what we discover along the way. It's how we improve and grow by what we discover. It's the sweat and the work and the frustrations and breakthroughs. And I realized that sometimes the best thing you can do when progress doesn't seem to be coming is to step back and focus on something else for a while because the movements and the growth that happens there will only benefit you when you return to the original focus.
So if your practice is struggling, step back and see if you're overdoing it. Switch things up, take a break from that one pose, and watch your practice grow.