I love to practice Yoga. I love how it helps me unwind after a day at work, how it helps find my center and my calm, how it lifts my mood. I simply love how Yoga makes me feel. Only sometimes, I find Yoga very frustrating. And I really mean very very very… There are just some practices and some poses that leave me feeling unsatisfied and thinking “what is this all about anyway?”.
I had such a practice this morning. For my morning practice I chose an arm balances class with Amy Ippoliti on Yogaglo. I really do not get arm balances. I think they are beautiful and impressive. Whenever I see a picture or a video on arm balances I am in awe. But I simply cannot do them or most of them anyway. So really what I do is avoid them. There are many other poses that I find hard to do but most of the time I can approach them in one way or another, even though it might be through a modification or variation. But I rarely practice arm balances in any variation. So no wonder that they are still largely a mystery to me.
I started the class and no surprise, frustration quickly rose and even a bit of anger. Should you feel angry during your Yoga practice? I don’t think so. However Amy Ippoliti pointed out during the class that arm balances trigger all sorts of nerves in the body and bring up all sorts of emotions. So maybe I have to feel all these irritations and learn to move beyond. More easily said than done. Honestly I felt like stopping and doing something that I already do well or like doing something that generates less negative feelings.
But that isn’t what Yoga is all about, is it? It is not about doing what you can or about staying in your comfort zone.
Yoga is about finding comfort in the unknown and even in the scary and annoying experiences of life.
In terms of asana practice that means that you take the class through to the end even if you can’t properly do any of the poses. And then you repeat the class and maybe incorporate some of these poses in your daily practice.
In life it means that you do not quit at the first obstacle you encounter at work or that you do not leave a relationship because of a disgareement. It means that you pause, acknowledgde your feelings and frustrations (yes please, no denying of the fact that you feel discouraged or sad) and then take the next steps (or repeat what you have just done and try again).
Also keep in mind your goal, both on and off the mat and reassess from time to time: why am I doing this? what am I trying to get out of it? what can I learn? what is life’s lesson for me?.
Frustrations and fears can bear great fruits when identified and acknowledged. You might even end up totally loving what you so loathed or discover new talents and capacities that you did not even know you had.
Meditation is a great way of acknowledging our feelings and releasing them. Gabby Bernstein has a lovely meditation called “Feeling meditation” that is great when you feel discomfort and unease about something. Here is an excerpt.
Sit comfortably and breathe deeply.
As you inhale become curious about your body, identify any areas of your body where you might holding on to discomfort (chest, stomach, neck,…).
As you become conscious of where there is discomfort, allow yourself to gently breathe into that area. Gently breathe in and out.
Inhale I am willing to feel my pain
Exhale I release
Inhale I am willing to feel
Exhale I release
Inhale I am willing
Exhale I release
Continue like this for a few minutes, taking your time. No need to run, no need to think excessively over your feelings, nothing to avoid. Allow yourself to become present with the feeling as if it where part of you. And then release it.
Enjoy and practice again and again with dedication. All will happen with time.
And now I am off to practice some more arm balances.
Credits: Illustration by Linda Dieschbourg.