After writing my blog last year about yoga, practicing a skill and realising your strengths, I decided to see what I could do about my lack of knowledge of how to headstand. At the time I’d been regularly practicing yoga for over a year, but at that time had put headstands in the “too hard” category.
What was I scared of?
- Not knowing what I was doing
- Getting it horribly wrong
- Looking silly in front of other people
So what did I do?
Firstly, I researched my topic – in the case of yoga headstands, there are plenty of instructional articles and videos on the internet.
Secondly, I practiced in the comfort, privacy and safety of my own home. Here I could have a go in an environment where it didn’t matter if I fell flat on my face…or back…or side (which I most definitely did!).
At some point in the future (when we’re all allowed out again), it will be time to try around other people in a class. I will need to put aside my fears of things going wrong and what other people might think. There I’ll benefit from a teacher to give me feedback and tips on improving my technique.
The same principles apply to practicing any new skill. It can be an essential part of learning to research and practice on your own. It is only in a “live” environment however that you can truly test your skill, refine your technique and build your confidence through connection and reaction from others. I’ve experienced this in different settings, from public speaking to playing the piano. Lockdown has somewhat limited the ways we can test our skills, although the number of things which have gone digital is pretty impressive. I’ve attended yoga classes, public speaking clubs and piano lessons online. Each has given me the chance to continue to learn.
Being willing and able to learn new things is its own skill. What we’ve all experienced over the last year has brought this home to me even more.
It takes dedication. This is not actually all that common. Many people do not have the motivation and discipline to practice a new skill over a long period. Some might think it’s a good idea, but don’t even start when it comes to putting in consistent work.
You must have a willingness to learn. I enjoy learning – both completely new things, but also how to do things better. I’m a pretty reflective person, so I tend to learn by observing what is going on around me and writing down my thoughts. This worked, this didn’t, this could have been different. I appreciate this is part of my personality type. Other people learn more by experimentation – dive in, have a go, if it didn’t work, try something else. We all learn in different ways. Finding a way that works for you is important, but whatever way that is, you still need to be open to learning.
It takes resilience. To learn a new skill, you will have to take the occasional knock along the way. I’ve had bruises to show from my yoga headstand practice. If you give up at the first set-back, it won’t happen. And as I’ve written about before, feedback is important to learning. A big part of learning is understanding that you might have been doing something not quite right. Admitting that and trying a different way is challenging.
If you have the dedication, openness and resilience to learn new things, realise that that is a strength in itself and appreciate how amazing this is.