Ever feel like it’s all you can do to stand still? That’s there’s always some new mess to clean up or challenge to sort out and no matter how hard you try, you’re fighting a (losing) uphill battle?
Story of life, isn’t it? So what to do? Give up? Accept that this is as good as it gets? One of my favorite quotes reminds me that there’s another option and though I may not be able to control the world; I can control my perception of it:
In other words, Yes, life is hard and unpredictable. There will always be things to stress about but each of us has the power to determine our response and shape our world.
And that’s why I do yoga. It’s a place to come to when the day is sunny and my body feels great. It’s a place to come to when the world is crashing down and I’m in pain. It’s always there, asking nothing more of me than to just show up and breathe.
In both yoga and in life, most of us have preconceived ideas of what it means to be good or successful and those ideas are usually rooted in comparisons to others, a desire to fit in and our own self judgements. Often they’re simply stories we tell ourselves, and whether or not they’re true, they create our reality.
My yoga practice is a smaller, safer arena in which I can dance and wrestle with these stories to learn the lessons I need in order to get through the larger world. While moving through Sun Salutations in class this week, I was struck by how this series similarly echoes the rhythm of life. Sun Salutations are a flowing dance, made up of many individual breaths and movements along the way – one no more important or better than the rest. Life is similarly a winding journey of moments that often only makes sense in retrospect.
We go up, reaching to new heights – our faces and hearts basking in the glow of the sun and the promise of a better/brighter day.
We fold down, humbled by fear, self-doubt and the ever ominous unknown.
We step back, unsure of our proposed leap into the unknown but in that step back, we find our strength. We ground, we find support – on the mat, our legs, feet, core – in life our health, skills, friends, maybe even a random Pinterest quote that reminds us it’s ok and we rise back up.
We go down, we go up. We step forward, wiser and bolder than before. We reach back up for the sun, ready to claim the thing we most want yet fear. And then we fold back down again.
That’s a Sun Salutation and that’s life. A continuous cycle where glorious highs are followed by slides back down. Sometimes then, the biggest step forward just means not sliding back. Being able to pause and breathe – recognizing what’s happening and what we’re capable of doing in that moment and that moment only.
Yoga reminds us it’s not about perfection or arriving at the end destination. It’s about the journey there. We come to our mat to feel and to be – to just be – without the need to explain or apologize or be any different. To show up, to breathe and keep moving. To fall over, to modify, to rest when needed and just stay present.
As we allow ourselves this freedom on our mat, it slowly seeps into the rest of our lives. There will always be problems and hard times but as we learn to be present, to breathe no matter what’s happening, to let go of expectation and finally to be kind to ourselves, our ability to ride the waves increases.
I hope you’ll join me in class as we ride these waves together. Can’t make it to class? I’m beginning to post sequences from my classes and home practices you can follow along with.