Dance, Yoga, and Humility

Dance, Yoga, and Humility October 24, 2014
Backbends: another reason belly dance and yoga go together. Photo by Paul Patton, from Bloomington Belly Dances 2013.
Backbends: another reason belly dance and yoga go together. Photo by Paul Patton, from Bloomington Belly Dances 2013.

I’m in the middle of a 30-Day Challenge at my local hot yoga studio (the goal is to do 30 consecutive days of yoga), and it’s not only thoroughly challenging me, but also inspiring me to reflect on the different things I get out of yoga and dance.

With dance – specifically, American Tribal Style® Belly Dance – I’m kinda at the top of the local food chain. I’m a certified teacher of the style, and I run a troupe, and we even get paid to perform (sometimes). I’m deeply honored that my students trust me to be their teacher. I love this dance form, and I love finding ways to challenge myself, up my game, and improve my technique.

But for the most part, for me to view dance with new eyes, I need to play in another sandbox (or dance style). I’ve been doing some of that too recently, which has been more rewarding than I can really put into words right now. Still, the feeling persists: when it comes to dance, I’m a pretty okay dancer. The things that challenge me are things I’ll eventually get a handle on. For the most part, I’m competent at it.

With yoga, though, I feel like a complete beginner every time I unroll my mat. It’s very humbling, and I love it. I fall all the time in balancing poses. I can’t do a handstand or even a headstand yet. My warrior lunges are frequently shaky and need correction.

I am grateful to have yoga in my life right now, in part because it feeds into my desire for a healthy body, in part because it helps calm my jittery anxious mind, and also in part because it serves as a contrast to my “yep, I got this” attitude as a professional dancer. When I do yoga, I’m reminded of how much I have yet to learn… and the fact that it’s okay to be a perpetual beginner. I think it’s good for me to have a regular practice that involves both mind and body that is explicitly NOT about achievement, goals, and status. Because while I love building the local tribal belly dance community (which relies on me promoting myself as a competent teacher/performer hence all that achievement/goal/status stuff coming into play), I like having other modes of exploring what my body can do.

I doubt it’s just me, either. I would hazard a guess that a lot of people could benefit from having parts of their lives where they funnel their achievements, and other parts where they aim simply to show up, be present, and enjoy. I know I’ll be both relieved and sad when this 30-Day Challenge is over, but hopefully I’ll carry forward this experience of enjoying humility.


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  • Mel

    Well, you know the trite stuff they say about walking before you can run, and it takes 10000 hours of practice to get good at something (or something like that.) But you said it yourself, basically–sometimes the point ISN’T to be good at something. Still, it takes tremendous courage for a perfectionist, an ambitious high achiever, a talented individual to suit up, show up, and embrace that. My applause to you.

    • jeana

      Thank you, Mel! I’m trying to embrace every part of the process, no matter what activity it is and what I’m trying to get out of it. As such, it feels like acknowledging that I might suck at some stuff is a good first step.