Mine is not an easy yoga asana class. At the start of a new session I let participants know that I am going to stress them out in order to teach them how to better manage stress. I challenge them physically, for sure; many participants are shaking and sweating, but also I challenge them mentally. I ask that when contorted in an uncomfortable position that they focus on the breath, breath into the discomfort and find areas that can relax within the posture. I ask them to find santosha, contentment, while holding a pose that makes the thighs burn. More importantly, I ask them to detach from the need to take the final pose; to bravely listen to their best teacher- their own bodies.
It takes bravery to lift a foot off the floor in visvamitrasana; it takes bravery to twist yourself up while standing on one leg in garudasana. For some it takes great bravery to relax in savasana. But the bravest of participants know that when they’ve reached their edge, they do not need to keep up with the couple of others in class who can take the full variation of one of these difficult poses. They know how to detach from outcomes and do what is right for them physically.
As is often the case, yoga is a metaphor for life. Finding our edge is sometimes more difficult, a little scarier, in our day to day lives. It’s easy to find the edge on the yoga mat because we have this great inner teacher- our physical body- telling us how far to go. In life we often short change ourselves. We don’t believe we are capable of greatness, we dismiss evidence that we are in fact part of the Divine and capable of whatever we decide we want to be. Our minds demand that we ‘fit in’ – be just like everyone else- or at least what we perceive is like everyone else. Just like in yoga class when we push ourselves too far. This mind of ours is a wonderful, very powerful tool. As we all know from Stan Lee’s Spiderman comics (ok, there’s some controversy on who said this first!) with great power comes great responsibility. We need to use our minds responsibly to move ourselves toward what our soul needs on this journey. Likely it does not need to sit complacently and watch as others live out your dreams. It probably doesn’t need to lay on the couch and eat junk food. Be brave today and recognize your own greatness and treat yourself physically, emotionally and mentally as the worthy, divine individual you are. Treat yourself as you would treat another of greatness. Give generously to yourself in spirit. In doing so you lift us all up because we really are all one. Be brave today and recognize your own greatness.