In times when life feels most out of our control, yoga is right there for us. It’s times like these in which we can get pulled off course by experiences, our interpretations of them, the feelings attached and the flood of thoughts that surround it all, and in this, we are likely to lose our connection to Self.
When the edge of our tolerance and ability to cope is challenged, we have two choices; we can fall into unhealthy patterns seeking comfort, or we can lean in to see what we can learn about ourselves. The latter is the stuff of yoga. This yoga does not require a studio or a mat, but it does require grit and courage.
The pose begins when you want to leave it.
You’ve likely heard a teacher describe “deepening your practice”; well, friend, you are likely doing just that right now. Yes, even you sitting on the couch. Yoga is not simply a set of postures we configure out bodies into, it is our relationship with our Self, it is a practiced awareness of ourselves, whether or not we are in a studio or anywhere on a mat.
If you have lost income, been quarantined, taken out of your usual daily routines, then you are likely also feeling the discomfort, sadness, frustration, restlessness and irritability that come with challenges like these. This is the yoga of life. When we find ourselves in uncomfortable situations, do we stay? Do we breathe and learn how to stay present, to cope in ways that do no harm?
I have had many moments in the past few weeks when I’ve wanted to get out of the discomfort, take the low road, do the less functional thing, resist what needs to be. Just like when I’m on my mat and reach the point in class for backbending, when I hesitate to join the class in wheel, holding my breath in a resistant, self-defeating, protest, then abandoning the pose altogether.
Then I see myself, I remember what is truly within my edge, I breathe fully and with the next exhale, I begin again. So is life these days; challenging, but full of opportunity to be present, to know ourselves in a more functional, meaningful way.
When so much of the external is out of our control, can we remember what is within us? Can we breathe, pause, reassess what we are capable of? Can we choose with a mindful awareness of what truly serves us so that we aren’t self-sabotaging and increasing our own suffering?
When it seems that “disconnection” is the only choice, can we choose to connect to Self and remember how to manage the alone without losing ourselves to “lonely”. This is yoga. In these tough times, may you breathe, pause and choose the next best choice for yourself and let this yoga practice get you through.
Ashley McHan, RYT, LMHC