The Yoga Sutras say that our movements should be steady and sweet – and they’re right. But that doesn’t make it easy.
Take a moment of pause right now to think about what comes easy for you. And after you do that, take a moment to think about what feels especially challenging.
Now ask yourself: Am I making the choices and taking the actions to grow beyond those challenges?
When I first heard this wise question, I resisted. Which is to say, I had to practice this idea so I could soften that resistance enough to start making some hard changes. Doing what I had always done was not going to open any new doors.
Which means if it’s hard, it’s a place for you to grow. Here are some ways to practice what does not come easy in your life:
On Your Mat
Does your spine take backbends easily? Then switch it up and focus on core work. And if core work comes easy, practice backbends. If you usually take child’s pose when challenging poses are called, take that moment to challenge yourself and give it a go. Believe me, falling is part of the process.
Do you push so hard you end up snoring in savasana? Back off a little and take a rest throughout in order to avoid the awkward moment when everyone is putting their blocks away as you wake up out of your yoga-induced coma (and maybe wipe a little drool from your cheek).
Do you beat yourself up inside each conflict? By honing that awareness, you can form a new habit – try taking an internal stand for your choices. Self-love is a work in progress, and it’s these little conversations that we have with ourselves that will help form healthier internal dialogues and outcomes. When you catch yourself in the mirror, do your eyes always find a new wrinkle? Wrinkles, stretch marks, scars– these are all signs of a live being lived, and there’s beauty in that. Next time you get to the mirror, meet your own eyes and see that spark of beauty instead.
If you always talk, listen. If you always listen, speak up. Do you always make the meals, but never do the dishes? Try on a new role in your home routine.
Do you invest too much time in counting and quantifying every act of love? Sometimes we can all be guilty of that. I promise you will feel happier if you take those moments to self-check and work on experiencing love and giving love without measure.
There is research that says that focusing on what we are good at will lead us to greater success and happiness in life. This pearl of wisdom does not ask you to change your core values, just to bring yourself to a new approach.
In my eyes, samadhi- liberation, immersion, bliss- is a constant mid-point that we pass through as we waver between apathy and ambition, isolation and codependency, a backbend and a forward fold. When we understand, respect, and even practice both sides of those spectrums, we have a greater sense of our own center. When we look for the middle path, we can reduce our suffering and increase moments of joy. And don’t we all want a little more joy?
By Christen Bakken
Christen Bakken is uncertain if she found yoga, or if yoga found her, but since 1998 the yoga mat has been Christen’s refuge. Her first visits to the mat had nothing to do with tight hamstrings or shoulders and instead, had more to do with reducing anxiety. Through movement and breath, she began to see the mat as a place to let go, and, only then, strengthen and soften in all areas of her life.In 2006, Christen took her first power yoga teacher training. She has done many trainings since then; her most recent is 500 hours with Rusty Wells in San Francisco.
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