Expectation feeds frustration as it’s simply an illusive form of control by attempting to grip the reins that aren’t ours to hold. Breathe. Release. Let go. Allow your life naturally, quietly to unfold. ~Victoria Erickson
My third born child, Mateo, turns two years old on August 6th. I can remember being so happy when I had conquered hopping from downward facing dog into handstand, just before becoming pregnant with him. I can remember feeling proud of myself for the hard work I had put into weaving this variation into my practice and appreciating the ability to have it as a part of my practice. While it certainly doesn’t make or break a practice, it was the journey to get there that I was most grateful for.
Fast forward to nine months of pregnancy, child birth, and eight weeks of maternity leave. I can remember anxiously awaiting returning to my mat, after having Mateo. When I finally did, I was very quickly reminded that having expectations is the quickest way to landing your way into disappointment.
Rather than approaching my post-baby practice with an open-mind and allowing it to unfold organically, I went in with the expectation that I’d be just as strong and capable as I was prior to pregnancy. Certainly, I’d be able to leap from downward facing dog into handstand again, just as I had right before I learned I was pregnant. No problem. Boy, was I wrong and also quite disappointed, as a result of this failed expectation. Rebuilding my core strength and pelvic floor strength post-baby number three was going to be a process. I had to let go of expectations and embrace the journey of starting from scratch. Beginning again.
We’re all guilty of it…placing expectations on ourselves, day in and day out. Through yoga, we’re reminded to let go of our expectations, such as:
- Releasing the assumption that our bodies will be able to do the postures the same way it did in our last practice (we’re reminded that every day is different).
- Not freaking out when we show up to class expecting our regularly scheduled teacher, only to find a substitute has taken their place (we’re reminded to come from a space of non-attachment and to simply show up – ready for anything, as life itself often throws us unexpected curve balls).
- Being open to new possibilities, experiences, and opportunities (the practice teaches us to be fluid, versus bound to the trappings of our comfort zone).
Fast forward to today. While I’m closer, I still can’t leap from downward facing dog into a handstand, as I used to (yet). Sulking seems like a natural response to this, but I’m choosing to overflow with positivity from it.
Perhaps it’s because I’m building an even stronger sense of character and humility through the process of trying again. Or, that I have an even greater love and appreciation for my body and the fact that it grew and birthed three human beings…all two years apart!
Or, maybe it’s because starting from scratch offers me the opportunity to practice releasing expectations and to remember what truly makes or breaks a practice…which is simply showing up and doing the work. Showing up is powerful, as it creates space for possibilities. Doing the work is equally powerful, as it allows us to listen, acknowledge, soften, make positive changes, and honor ourselves and whatever we need in that particular practice. It teaches us vulnerability and that the practice (just as life off the mat) is ever evolving and that there is always space for falling, growing, and beginning again. The journey doesn’t have an expiration date.
Learn how to let go of the stories you tell yourself…the expectations and judgments you experience as you move through your practice. Notice as well when your ego is driving your practice. So often these judgments, harsh criticisms, and ego hold us back…keeping us from our true potential…blocking us from our brilliance within.
The next time you’re on your mat and that little voice inside tells you to do more…try doing less and see what happens. By doing so, you learn to question whether your ego is pushing you forward for all the glory, or if you’re really ready to go deeper. This is a huge step in learning to let go. Quieting the stories for even the smallest of moments can allow you to open up in big ways.
Nowadays, rather than having an “expectation” of handstand, I’m enjoying adding play, joy, ease, and non-attachment to outcomes, into re-creating handstand for myself. I’m embracing the journey again and the fact that there really is nothing wrong with starting over from scratch…both on and off the mat. It’s our “expectations” that rob us of our ability to let go and begin again.
The best part is when my kids watch in awe, as I play with handstands. Inspiring them makes my heart sing and I find I have my strongest handstands in their presence because I am truly “light” and soft like “air,” when practicing in their presence. Their childlike spirit inspires me.
Let go of expectations. Surrender to the organic flow of life, the process, and the present moment. See how doing so will help you be free…like light and air.