Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. (Winston Churchill)
Wherever you are is perfect.
This is a story about disappointment. It's also an inspiring story about reaching beyond your comfort zone and attempting something you've been scared to try. When something doesn't work out despite our best efforts, our natural inclination is to feel a sense of failure, but we should instead celebrate the courage of the attempt.
Coral reef mural in a children's room, by Kim Wenger Hall
Kim Wenger Hall, local yoga instructor, had long wanted to host a service-based destination yoga trip. This winter she put aside her apprehension, got serious, and began to plan. After a false start with one trip to Puerto Rico, she found an amazing yoga resort in Panama. In early April, she committed to bringing a group of yogis there in July. The plan was to help hatching baby sea turtles reach the ocean in the wee hours of the morning while practicing yoga and enjoying the beach during the day. Kim spent the winter advertising, hanging flyers, posting ads, writing stories, and spreading the word. But, to her great disappointment, it didn't work out. By the yoga resort's deadline for placing a BIG second deposit, not enough participants had signed up and, sadly, the trip was canceled.
Kim poured her heart into the trip, but unfortunately it wasn't enough. That's not the most critical element to this story, in my opinion. The most important part is her courage. She worked hard to accomplish something that earlier she'd been afraid to even try. Kim reached for something she wanted, and reached and reached. I hope in the future, when Kim looks back on her efforts, she doesn't feel regret or disappointment, but rather proud that she extended herself beyond her feelings of fear and self-doubt. This time the trip isn't working out, but the next time? Consider all the elements to planning such a complex trip and think about what she knows now.
Tuscan Landscapes, by Kim Wenger Hall
Practicing yoga is exactly the same process. We don't join a yoga class to perfect yoga. We don't leave a yoga studio, dusting off our hands saying, Well that was a breeze; I've mastered yoga. What should I perfect next? We practice yoga to get better at it. We practice yoga to enjoy how it makes us feel. There are no mirrors in a yoga studio because if there were, we'd focus on how we looked and not how it feels.
My first yoga instructor routinely reminded us: wherever you are is perfect. I loved that mantra. The message being: there is no absolute perfection in yoga. We're all trying to improve and to feel each pose more deeply and with more awareness. Someone in a full split is not performing "better" yoga than someone whose feet are barely splayed apart. What's most important is how each pose feels for you in your body.
Egret Mural, by Kim Wenger Hall
Each pose should be challenging, whether it's standing tall in Mountain Pose or folded up and balanced on two hands in Crow Pose. Each pose is an opportunity to reach farther and to try more. You could argue that each pose should ultimately be a failure. We're attempting each pose, but we never master them. The joy of yoga is in the trying-- not in unattainable perfection.
I hope that in time Kim will celebrate her hard work in arranging a service yoga trip to Panama. I hope that she tries again in the future, armed with the knowledge she gained in her first attempt. We tell our children: we learn through failing. What would we learn if we succeeded at everything we tried? How would we get better if everything was easy for us? What would accomplishment feel like if it came effortlessly?
Birches Mural, by Kim Wenger Hall
Kim teaches yoga all over the Upper Valley: Mighty Yoga, Upper Valley Yoga, and Enfield Community Center. Kim brings a light-hearted blend of Hatha yoga, focusing on alignment, breath work, and self-inquiry. She believes the ultimate goal of yoga is to unite the body, mind and spirit, so that life can be lived to the fullest, though all circumstances.
Kim is also an accomplished muralist and painter, as you can see in her artwork laced through this story. It adorns the walls throughout the Upper Valley, including at DHMC, Kimball Union Academy, Salt Hill Pub, and numerous private residences. She specializes in decorative finishes, historical landscapes, whimsical scenes, and capturing the beauty of the natural environment. For more information on her artistry go to www.wengerarts.com.