As many of my dear readers know, I’ve got a sweet wingman named Ozzy Pawsbourne. When I bailed Mr. Pawsbourne out of the pound last summer, he was an unruly and unsocialized kindergartener with bad manners. So bad, in fact, his previous family had given up on him and left him to be adopted or euthanized.
But Oz has a heart of gold, with a wit to match. So despite his late start, he began tackling the difficult task of growing up. He overcame fears; like car, park, bath and rain. He was taught things like sit and stay and catch and how to walk on a leash.
Still other things he seemed to pick up entirely on his own. Like lifting his leg to take a leak.
Since I don’t have a yard, me and Oz walk. A lot. And there’s a lot to be said for a street education. He’s been brutally attacked, two against one. Picked up burrs, fleas, and parasites. We’ve been witness to aerial bug warfare. Been verbally accosted by overly clingy neighbors. Kicked it with gypsy musicians and various other human and animal friends. And let’s not forget learning about traffic.
Over the course of all that life experience, Oz also managed to master the fine art of lifting his leg.
I’ll analogize this process by way of handstand practice, since handstands are so hot right now. For whatever reason, yogis have this tendency to obsess over mastering handstand. As though it’s a rite of passage. Or going to solve something. Or… I don’t know.
And the reality of the situation is that people are hurting themselves because of it. A lot.
BKS Iyengar said to focus your practice on the basics, and fuss with advanced postures only once you can hold a basic asana effortlessly for ten minutes. And that’s more towards how me and Ozzy Pawsbourne practice.
When Oz wanted to learn to lift his leg, he didn’t obsess about it. After failing to hold it in the middle of the room, he didn’t come home and thrash his leg against the wall fifty times a day. He didn’t focus on what he couldn’t do. He just acknowledged where he was today, and did what he could. Even when it meant squatting like a bitch.
He didn’t even practice every time he needed to take a leak. Some days, he wouldn’t bother trying at all. But if he found a good tree, and inspiration struck, he’d post up and try again. Meanwhile, he busied himself with all of the many wonderful things he was good at. Like play. Fetch. And running laps. Little by little, he got stronger. And his balance improved.
And Ozzy Pawsbourne didn’t feel sorry for himself. Nor did he make excuses about his long, sausagey Basset body, or short stumpy legs. So poorly designed for free-standing leg lifting practice. No wonder it was taking him forever.
He also didn’t compare himself to the Greyhound, with its sleek slender body, and long limbs – so flawlessly designed for effortless three legged pissing. They make it look SO easy.
When I first got Oz, he couldn’t hold his leg up for any time at all. He’d instantly lose his balance, and the leg would plop right back down. But after several months of practice, he began being able to hold his leg up, using a tree for support, for increasingly longer and longer periods of time. And now? After 15 months, he’s able to hold his leg high, eyes to the sky, with no support but his own.
I’ve heard it said that the practice of yoga is when the impossible becomes possible. And those moments are awesome. But I find progress a dish best served when prepared with joy, santosha and ahimsa. Party on, yoga people.