Finding Love and Stability Within
In yoga, we're all about creating freedom. Freedom from things like limitation, tension and lack, and the freedom to be who we need to be in order to feel alive, awake to our own potential, and of course, happy. On my off hours at the Omega's Institute's Being Yoga conference, I stumbled across Byron Katie's intriguing book I Need Your Love-- Is that True? It brings up valid questions about how much energy and time we waste trying to get other people to do what we want. I instantly saw the parallels to how and why we practice yoga.
The root of suffering, according to so many spiritual traditions, including yoga, is seeking fulfillment from outside sources. We know this, yet we still do it all the time. "You're late again!" we fume at our partners, while sitting at a restaurant with friends. "I hate it when you disrespect my time like that!"
But hold on there, yogis. You were at a nice restaurant with friends. Why not want your partner to get there when its organically right for them, and in the meantime, isn't there wonderful conversation to be had with your tablemates, precious time for the three of you to create your own special dynamic, or even a wine list to peruse and discuss with the sommelier? Which truth creates more harmony, increased life affirmation, and allows love to flourish? And which creates a diminishing, negative space?
In the part of our yoga practice that includes a sticky mat and poses, we quickly learn that truth is relative. When in a long-held Plank, Pose we can choose this one:
"I can't do this--my arms are going to give out!" Or this one: "Wow! I'm getting super strong right now, even though my arms feel like they're going to give out!" Or a million alternatives that may or may not serve our ultimate goals the best. And that's the key to happiness.
When you're engaged in a lifestyle of awareness and health, your main goal is not to make other people keep you stable and loved. It's for you to be stable and loved, from the inside out, all by yourself. Otherwise, you're leaving your inner state up to the wild and unpredictable world of others. And no matter how much they want to be there for you, they cannot be you. Knowing this ignites your inner strength and potential to reclaim the power you hold to self-generate satisfaction right here, right now.
Only you can ensure that you turn all moments to your advantage, and that you see the love and unity inherent in every situation, instead of the separatism and doubt, and move into your best life even so. Am I telling you to put up with abuse? Of course not. In Warrior I, you should get some kind of growth and transformation, and then you move on, before you overdo it and end up tearing yourself down. When you really look at what you do in yoga classes, meditations, and other spiritual disciplines you're engaged in, you'll see they are sending you direct messages about the road out of suffering. Whether you take it or not has nothing to do with anyone else--and everything to do with you.
Here's a pose I teach my students to help them engage in the practice of what comedian Stephen Colbert calls "truthiness." In other words, see how you can shift your perspective into something that lights you up and keeps your heart wide open, instead of the opposite.
Core Pose: Side Angle Preparation
Sure, you might be able to get your hand to the floor or block here, but that's not the point of this posture. I invite you to back off to go deeper. The practice is to bring yourself out of full external expression and hug into your inner world.
Come into a Warrior stance with your right foot forward and back foot angled slightly forward. Heels either intersect on an imaginary line or step wider to hip distance. Place your right forearm on your right thigh and sweep your left arm over the ear. Widen both shoulders and maintain the downward ground of your forearm. Breathe slowly and deeply through the nose.
Root your heels and balls of the feet deeply into the mat to create a corresponding lift and support through the legs. As the fierce intensity builds in your legs, your dedication may begin to waver as your mind begins to give you all sorts of excuses encouraging you to bail.
Instead, breathe more deeply. See if you can shift your focus to something empowering, like maintaining the engagement of your low belly, building core strength as your tailbone lengthens, promoting space in the sacrum and lower back. Spin from your lower ribcage and offer your heart to your highest self, even though you're enduring a lot of sensation. This is the same as any high emotional state that threatens to knock you off center. This is your practice of staying your ground. Most of all, enjoy feeling yourself transform. It's not always comfortable, but it can be powerful--depending how you look at it.