“Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” - Haruki Murakami
A broken heart, a car accident, a death of a loved one, a cancer diagnosis: any one of these can occur and knock us off of our feet. We all experience pain. Suffering is the identification with the pain. Or, as Judith Lasater states in her book Living Your Yoga, suffering is the personalization we bring to our difficulties.
What does that mean? And how can yoga help us navigate the challenges and obstacles that each and every one of us face daily? You’ve probably heard we can’t control much of the external happenings in the world around us, all we can control is our reaction to it. Yoga provides a practical toolbox to not just survive the difficult times, but to use them as opportunities to grow stronger and more powerful.
In the first chapter of the Yoga Sutras, the Samadhi Pada, Patanjali defines yoga in 1.2 Chitta vritti nirodhaha, which roughly translates to learning how to direct and sustain your attention where you want it to go. Or in other words, yoga is the resolution of the dysfunctional mind states.
We suffer because of our perspective. If we change our viewpoint, we can lessen suffering. We’re all born with a lens through which we see the world. That lens can grow cloudy or distorted based upon our thoughts and our actions. Yoga teaches us to focus on the positive and learn to focus on controlling our thoughts and reactions instead of losing ourselves in despair trying to change things beyond our reach.
If this sounds like a challenge, it’s because learning to direct our mind without distractions takes practice and discipline. But yoga can lead us to true freedom. In yoga philosophy, freedom or liberation translates to the word Moksha. Derived from the Sanskrit word muc (“to free”), the term moksha literally means freedom from samsara or the world. Offered as an ultimate goal of practice, when you embody moksha, you are freed from the worries of the everyday. You’ve shifted your perspective and cleansed your personal lens.
One way to work through pain and suffering is by stepping onto your yoga mat. Yoga gives us a place to process overwhelming emotions. Your yoga practice is a safe haven from the perils of the everyday world. We aren’t pretending darkness doesn’t exist. No, it’s to travel through the shadows, and experience the blinding pain, even when we aren’t sure we can bear it. We cannot have the light without the dark. How do we see reflection without shadow?
This week's classes are here to provide you with some solace for difficult challenges in life, and when things feel hard. It can be tempting to avoid your mat during these moments, but also more important than ever to show up for yourself.
Shannon Paige - Twists & Turns for Easing Trauma
Elise Fabricant - Heal Your Broken Heart
Maria Garre - Yoga for Depression: Flow into Happiness
Claire Petretti Marti - Yoga for Cancer Recovery
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