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Are mistakes even real?

I was in yoga class the other day and we were playing around with this pose called Fallen Angel. It is an arm balance that starts in side crow, and then you move into this contorted position where your legs are pointing up towards the ceiling and your face is inches from the floor. By getting into this pose you are no closer to enlightenment than any other yoga pose, but it is a test in maintaining one point of focus.....and if you like arm balances it can be fun.

Arm balances are some of my favorite yoga postures, because they require so much attention and focus in that moment. It is just you, your breath, mind and body. If your mind wanders and you don’t focus on the details of your finger pads pressing into the floor, your legs engaged, or your breathing, you can tumble and fall. Although, the falling is when you learn the most. As with knitting, when you drop a stitch, or purl when you should have knit. It is in fixing those mistake that you learn the most.

When I was in class trying out the fallen angel pose, I tumbled, and I laughed hard. My fellow classmates gave me sidelong glances, but I happily lay sprawled out on the floor. For a glorious second I was in that pose breathing deep before I toppled. There was no pain in the fall, it was just a lesson in mindfulness, presence, and practice, practice, practice.

Sometimes when knitting I don’t realize right away that I’ve made a mistake. It is not like falling out of a yoga posture. It might be 2 or 30 rows before I notice that I made my cable twist the wrong direction. Even if I don't spot that mistake instantly, it is how I react and learn from it that matters. If every time I fell out of a yoga posture I gave up on that pose, I’d pretty much only be in child’s pose or savasana (corpse pose). Which, to be honest, are sometimes the only poses I do in a day! But I like to try new things, and if you don’t challenge yourself even a little you don’t grow and expand.

Yoga and knitting are hobbies. They are meant to be fun. That is why I welcome toppling over in a yoga pose. Sometimes that smack brings me back to the joy of the practice, the fun of it. When I become frustrated that my knitting isn’t looking “right” or my yoga practice isn’t what it used to be, I remind myself that it is just knitting and yoga, and what fun they can be. There is no such thing as perfect, just fun. Both activities bring a sense of being centered, and if resistance comes as I am exploring a new yoga pose or knitting technique, I need to take a step back and let it go for a moment. And maybe have a glass of wine.... or two.

That is why I question if there really are mistakes in yoga and knitting. Aren't mistakes really just lessons? Moments where we learn something new. Once I was knitting a cotton crop top sweater and I didn't realize until I had finished binding off that I had a dropped stitch on the front right side. I took a moment to laugh at my ability to miss something so glaring and decided it actually was a cool design element. It was a gift for a friend, and she loved it. I learned that I need to check my stitches more often, and sometimes a mistake can become a unique design element!

So next time you make a mistake in knitting, or lose your balance in yoga, try taking a moment to smile or have a good belly laugh. Then see what it is you can learn from this speed bump.

Happy knitting (and yoga-ing)!

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