Being authentically “you” is a wonderful thing… pretty much. But everything we do has an effect and the effect is not always wonderful. It can be — if you’re a hard working energetic person, you’re probably really productive. But if you’re always working really hard, you probably have a tendency to burn yourself out. And by “you” I definitely mean “me, too!”
I was discussing strained hip-flexors with a student recently, and how ours have got us modifying and adjusting our practices because we’re having to admit that we need to dial it back to save our bodies and heal. Naturally, this discussion included how hard it was for us to come to terms with this. Then, I came across this quote.
“Yoga is the practice of tolerating the consequences of being yourself”
It’s credited as being from the Bhagavad Gita, but it’s a pretty loose interpretation of the text, albeit perhaps more contemporary and relevant to our culture. “Duty” is a value that has become a bit archaic, but being true to oneself is a concept we’re going gung-ho for these days. I enjoyed reading It’s All Yoga Baby contributor Roseanne’s description of this quote’s possible origins here.
Anyways, this statement really struck a chord for me after talking about dealing with the effects of my habits on my body.
Yoga isn’t just about finding yourself — it’s about making peace with yourself. Be your own lover. Tolerate all of your stupid little habits. And don’t “tolerate” yourself like you have a group of kids in the back seat singing “The Song That Doesn’t End” (if you don’t know what that is I’m going to have to direct you here). You’re not doing yourself any favors by allowing the kids to sing on and on gritting your teeth and white-knuckling the steering wheel.
Sing along. That’s the real work. And that’s where we really begin to connect. When we sing along with the consequences of ourselves, whether the consequences are that we accomplish awesome stuff with all of our hard work, or that we might burn ourselves out a bit by being overzealous about our abilities.
As we turn the body in on itself in a forward-folding centered practice (a great place to take the body physically as we take the mind in to the “self”) remember the function of folding in. We’re trying to connect the front side of the body (bringing the belly and thighs together, generally) and most of all we’re opening the back side.
I’ve been talking a lot this week about the idea of touching our toes. Yea, there’s some shapes in yoga where you “have” to grab your foot (note the quotes — there’s always the option for straps and modifications for poses that don’t necessitate the grab of hand to foot). But really, in life, why do you need to put your hand to your toes? Giving yourself a pedicure? Most of us farm that job out (if we even seek one out – I don’t get them myself) and you’re not supposed to be touching up your toes in yoga anyways, right?
So let it go. Bring the body together. Get a long spine and feel the extension of your hamstrings. And if it doesn’t go “perfectly”, and doesn’t look like what you think it should, awesome. Sing along. Enjoy the ride. Enjoy the practice.
Oh, and talk back to me about the practice this week. I’d love to know your thoughts and hear about your experiences. Feel free to suggest postures and focuses for future practices — I love getting inspiration from other yogis!
-*- Namaste -*-
-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*- Just the dharma talk…
-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*- Just the warm up…
-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*-*- A clip of this week’s “peak pose”, Heron (or Krounchasana)