The last few months have been difficult for me. I’ve had to take a break from my favorite exercise – pole dance– and let my body heal. Since I’m terrible at inactivity, and even worse at watching my body lose its hard-earned results, I looked for ways to exercise while healing. One of my favorite new activities is yoga.
There are as many ways to practice yoga as there are studios in which to practice. If you want to build strength, there’s a class for that. Need to de-stress and keep from screaming at someone, no matter how much they deserve it? There’s a class for that too. Want to rehab injuries? I can attest that there’s definitely a class for that. The list of benefits resulting from a regular yoga practice is long and varies from physical to mental to spiritual.
Unlike many other exercises, yoga encourages the use of props in class. Props, such as balls, blocks, straps and blankets, are there to assist you with your practice. Everyone from the complete beginner to exercise to the experienced yoga student can benefit from using these tools. Using props in class is akin to asking for help.
Did I mention I suck at asking for help? Well I do. Now, I love to help people. Looking for a job? Let me see if I can connect you to someone in my network. Need a dog? Oh, do I have suggestions for you. Want to meet someone special? I will search my mental Rolodex of people that I might set you up with, if I set people up. (In case you’re wondering, I don’t – too much pressure – but I will put you in the same room with many others and if things happen organically, great. Just so you know.) My first thought is, how can I help?
So, asking for help should be easy, right? Wrong. So very, very wrong.
I’ve been led to believe that in order to be independent and self-reliant, I had to do things on my own. Yoga was no exception. The thought of asking for help was cringe-inducing. After all, the most rewarding things in life are those we earn the hard way, right? I thought props were fine for those who needed them, not me – I was tough, and would only succeed if I relied on myself. Until my injuries, I had trouble even “asking” for help from an inanimate object in a yoga class!
Then I injured myself and had no choice but to use the available yoga props. What a difference! I was able to alleviate my pain. I found myself achieving more in class. I got to the point where I continued to use props even if I didn’t “need” them, and my practice improved.
I realized that if I used a block, it didn’t mean that I couldn’t touch the floor. It meant that I could do even better with a little help. And then, I wondered if it wasn’t a metaphor for life. (Yoga does crazy things like that to you. One minute you’re trying to breathe and hold your body in a pretzel shape and the next thing you know, you’ve had a stunning revelation.)
I was afraid that if I asked for help, others would view me as weak. They would see that this person who was so willing to help them didn’t have it all together. (Spoiler alert: that’s exactly what they saw when I didn’t ask for help.) I was afraid that if they saw my weaknesses, they would think that I couldn’t be of any use to them. So, I never asked – and continued to flounder. Until the I wondered, what would happen if I did ask? Would it be like finally breaking down and using a yoga block?
I decided to find out.
I started by assessing where I was in life and where I wanted to be. Next, I wrote out some goals – real goals, with deadlines. And to make sure I held myself accountable for reaching these goals, I started asking for help. My husband and I have monthly accountability meetings to keep us on track. I let friends, family and colleagues know what I am doing, and I ask them for help.
It hasn’t been nearly as scary as I thought it would be. I’ve found that those around me really want to help. So, I’ve accepted their offers, even when it’s tough to do so. Even when the help is in a form I don’t really want but know I need. I ask – and I make sure I – or someone I trust – is holding me accountable.
Don’t ever be afraid to ask for help. You will be pleasantly surprised at how many people want to assist you. Don’t be afraid to accept the help you’re offered, even if it takes you waaaaay outside your comfort zone.
And if we ever meet in yoga class, make sure I use all the props. I’ll do the same for you.