A few weeks ago, our favorite MizFit posted over on the Facebook asking what we were choosing for ourselves that day to be *ready* for the week ahead.
I had an immediate answer to Carla’s question: “I’m choosing to be kind to myself. To believe I AM stronger than I think I am. To be present, be open & not rush the process of change.”
My last statement was most important. The practice of patience during the process of change has been a challenge for me lately.
That particular span of days had been the epitome of new beginnings. The Thursday prior, I attended a networking event for event planning professionals, making my first formal appearance as a freelance event planner. The next day brought the first brainstorming meeting for an event I was hired to plan. That evening, I attended the very first session of my yoga teacher training. When I responded to Carla’s FB post that Sunday morning, I was on my lunch break during teacher training and was high as a kite. I was buzzing from the excitement of potential and the anxiousness of uncertainty.
For most of us, dealing with change is not easy. For some of us, it’s harder than others. Especially us yogis with an anxiety prone personality.
Change presents itself in a variety of speeds. Think about a difficult flow during a vinyasa yoga class: you move from pose to pose at the pace of your inhales and exhales. It takes a great deal of energy to get from downward facing dog to crescent warrior to warrior two to extended side angle to a reversed warrior to chaturanga. And then do it on the other side. You still with me? Good.
When change happens quickly it’s exhilarating yet nerve wracking. Things are happening so fast. There’s no chance to process just what is happening around you and happening to you. It’s easy for me to feel out of control. And as a control freak, it’s hard to relax and just enjoy the ride.
But sometimes, that change means sitting in the stillness until change occurs again. To be able to move that flow, you have to learn the order of the poses. You do this by moving through them s-l-o-w-l-y. Holding them for several breaths, which usually feels like an eternity.
For example, you’re holding Warrior 2. Your thigh is screaming at you. Your back leg is shaking. You’re doing your best to hold you arms in alignment while keeping your shoulders down and back, tucking your tailbone and not sticking out your ribs. You still with me? You’re fully aware of all the physical discomfort. That’s when the chatter of your mind starts to creep in: when are we going to move?! I can’t hold this anymore! You start creating a story that festers self-doubt which leads to you breaking the pose – when you actually had the strength both mentally and physically to hold it.
But yoga sutra 1.13 says“practice is the effort to secure steadiness”. What if we practiced being open to that moment of stillness? What if we recognized what physical and mental discomfort was happening? What do we learn about ourselves when we then let it all go and just worked toward “being” in the pose?
So what have we learned?
1) That flowing the poses is hard.
2) That holding the poses is just as hard.
3) Yogis are apparently suckers for discomfort. Don’t get me started on pigeon pose.
So why do we do it?
I do it because the practice of yoga off the mat is so much harder than my practice on it. But my practice on my mat makes those changes off it so much easier to handle.
When I’m buzzing about like a busy bee, my asana practice reminds me that I am strong enough to make it through a stressful day. When I’m left alone in those moments of stillness, those physical yoga poses remind me to recognize the emotions I’m feeling, but to then just let them fade away.
My anxious mind gets me stuck in building that story around those emotions. The story of self-doubt.The story of uncertainty. The story of the fear of making a mistake. But I’m learning to let go. To take a chance.To do something scary.To open myself up to the potential of a situation. I’m working towards gaining patience as things change around me: both during those non-stop hectic moments and in those moments of stillness. It takes time to cultivate that patience – a process that is practice in itself.
My teacher always ends her classes with the phrase “what you believe, you create”. If you believe in what both change and patience can bring, just imagine what you might experience in that process of your own practice.
The fantasticamazingandtrulyZEN Alicia blogs over at Poise in Parma. Please to visit her and get inspired. I know I always am.