Push or Surrender?
I often tell students, if you've decided to be in a posture, be in it with full dedication. Otherwise,
rest completely in Child's Pose. Either way, you're giving it your all, whether that "all" is
a more active, participatory state, or a surrendered, introspective one.
Whichever you choose, you're there, totally rocking it and getting what you need for your growth and transformation. When you realize that either choice is valid, both action and seeming inaction can move you unerringly forward and serve to support you in maintaining a healthy balance.
What strikes me about the practice of asana is how many practical tools and hints it reveals to us about how to cultivate a life lived more in the experience of our inherent equilibrium than in the wild and destructive storms of suffering. Often, I see students doing one of two things on their mats. They meet a challenging pose and instead of surrendering enough to allow the intensity to flow through the body and breath, they fight it. Their breath gets louder and faster as their faces redden and muscles tense against the onslaught of sensation. It seems they would rather die than take a rest, even when it's obvious that rest is needed. Bottom line: They are trying to confront something that would be so much easier to accept, soften into, and allow.
Or the opposite reaction occurs. If the challenge appears
too great, a student might just hang out in the pose limply, not
even attempting instructions that might empower them. Instead, they enter into
Child's Pose too soon or, they simply give up, plop on the mat, no more
alignment or yoga breath in sight, because they're stuck in the mantra, "If I
can't do it all, why even try?"
In both situations, have they missed the opportunity to engage at their next level, where transformation occurs? I can't say, but each of us can examine how our choices either serve our greatest good or keep us existing in a diminished state.
How often do we avoid doing the very work that would shift us toward our life's greatest expression or engaging in the sometimes-uncomfortable conversations that might take our relationships to that next place of honesty? This resistance to taking courageous action causes disconnection from one's core truth.
On the other hand, sometimes we engage too aggressively, trying to control every outcome by worrying about it, leaking energy by resisting reality, or over-focusing on other people's actions without realizing that these are the times when we are in danger of becoming out of alignment with our own integrity. In this state, we shut down to the teachings that are right in front of us, whether joyful or painful, that constantly ask us to decide: In this moment, what is most needed now? A conscious push or surrender?
Yogis come to realize, through practice and inner inquiry, that when they are faced with a choice, whether it's to do with a career move, a relationship, staying in Crow Pose for three more breaths or taking a rest, or anything else, that there are two options that have a good chance of paving a clearer path to peace. If you choose to engage, do it completely, serve the person or situation with love and respect, and do your absolute best to move forward. This can help quiet the anxiety of inner struggle than can occur when you don't fully commit to the choice you've made, at least for now.
If you choose not to participate, then sweetly but firmly exit the situation with love. This helps you avoid becoming the victim or bearing the oppressive weight of grudges. Instead you'll learn the art of forgiveness so completely that you realize there is ultimately nothing to forgive.
You can always change your mind, but when you learn to strategically engage and disengage, what remains unwavering is you, living from center; capable, present, and inviting yourself again and again into the awesome flow of opportunities for growth that surround you, right where you stand.
CORE POSE: Revolved Lunge with Variation
As you'll see when you play within Revolved Lunge, bending the knee may provide the twist or heart opening you desire and lengthening the leg could help you to gain flexibility. Learn to modify the pose through more or less action to suit your needs.
(Remember, in yoga poses, stretching more is not always desirable.)
Come into Low Lunge with your left foot forward, back heel up, and fingertips framing the front foot. If this feels too low, place a block under each hand.
Lift your belly on an exhalation, and inhale to wave your spine longer. Begin to twist from your right ribcage as you spin your heart to the left, and reach the right arm to the sky. Slide your left hip back and down, and take slow, deep breaths to open the chest and wring the inner body through the twisting action of the upper torso. Maintain a stable stance as you begin to draw the hips back, lengthening your front leg until you begin to feel sensation in the side of the hips or leg. Your heart may not open much at first, but you'll get a sweet stretch right where you need it most.
Stay in each variation (or choose the one that works best
for you) for 5 to 10 breaths then step your back foot forward and switch