The following article was published on on 11 July 2013.




I recently started working at a preschool. One of my greatest and wisest friends once mentioned this and I’m constantly reminded of it now: small children are like tiny drunk people.

If you’ve ever been near one of these itty bitty, messy, wobbly, nonsensical, smack-talking tots, you may have an idea of what I’m talking about. They walk into things. They fall over. They’re loud and they get angry for no apparent reason. They have shmutz on their faces all the time and they don’t seem to care.

Now before I make these children sound like little psychos, I will mention that they’re hilarious and very kind, imaginative souls. They do use one phrase, however, which I can’t stand and have a personal vendetta against.

“I can’t.”

These two words seem to be a mantra for many of my students. This is particularly true at the age of five and below, especially when it comes to creativity, trying new things, andplaying.

“Draw a heart!”

My eye started twitching at the lack of “please” in this command. Did this five-year-old really not know how to draw a heart? And demand me to do so?

“I’m going to draw it here and then you draw it onto your paper, okay?” I told him.

“No, I can’t,” he replied.

Oh my.

“I need help on the monkey bars!”

“Oh! Did you try?”

“No. I can’t. I’m too little.”

I not only went on a rant about size, ability, and “trying our very best” at this point, but about feminism. To a three-year-old.

As I watched one of my two-year-old students teeter past me one afternoon, knocking everything over in sight, his complete lack of balance reminded me of my current mental state while practicing yoga asana.

Although finding balance is difficult, it’s a goal I strive for. My physical yoga asana practice has been calling for attention for months now and instead of thinking “I can’t,” I just need to know I’m ready. Although I’ve struggled to find a class, teacher, and studio I feel at home with, there’s no reason to give up and claim inability. All of the excuses in the world can fill up time and space in my head, but in the end, my hamstrings will continue to tighten, my body and mind will ache for its practice, and I’ll always feel that lacking and aching need for my missing daily asana time.

Although I’m sure I’ve used the dreaded “can’t” phrase more recently than I think, it’s one I consciously try to ban from my thinking. We are what we think and what we put out into the world will come right back to us.

There was a time last year when I did say “I can” a lot. I said it so much that I’m now a certified yoga instructor and y’know what that means? I can fix my tight hamstrings. I canbalance my own dang asana. So as I roll out my mat, step back into adho mukha svanasana, and hold for longer than is ever comfortable, my mantra will once again be I can.

The fact of the matter is, you’ll never be able to do anything unless you try. Stop making excuses. Stop expecting anything. Rely on that person who has always had it in them and start trusting yourself, because you’ll never be able to say “I did” unless you stop thinking “I can’t” (at least that’s what I’d tell my preschoolers if they’d listen).

Namaste, friends!