“Each person has a…obligation…to learn how to live well, to live fully, as opposed to knowing only how to live comfortably.”
– Lucy Swindoll
Living well and fully doesn’t mean a life without discomfort. The goal of life isn’t to avoid or numb pain, but to persist and grow. Through yoga, you practice persisting on your mat so you can grow in your life.
Yoga, like life, isn’t about comfort. Sure, the end result in savasana is stillness that can feel blissful. But during the practice, you might encounter discomfort in your hips or hamstrings, wobble in your balance, face risk in an inversion, or judgment about the your pose vs. the person on the mat next to you.
Getting into a forward fold, one might notice an intense stretch in the hamstrings. Or in pigeon pose, the hips might alert of their tightness. Off the mat, we might respond immediately to an upsetting text. But on the mat, we’re supported in breathing and encouraging release of the tight area.
While balancing in tree, you might hold for three breaths and think, “I’ve got this!,” only to fall out of the pose. Off the mat, when we get off track, we might respond with a 4-letter word and self-judgment. On the mat, we learn that accepting the wobble IS “getting it.” We learn to gaze, breathe, re-calibrate, and enter again.
Entering handstand is always a mental challenge. The mind fears crashing. And when the body moves into the pose despite the mind’s fear, empowerment arises.
Off the mat, the mind compares your car, purse, salary, etc. to those nearby. The mind enters a judgment of acceptance of self or rejection of other. On the mat, we’re taught to redirect our attention to our own practice. Our pose will be different because our body is different. And any pose will feel different on any given day for a multitude of reasons. So the need for the unnecessary use of energy to compare fizzles.
Yoga holds space for us to accept discomfort in the body and mind, extend patience to our selves and our practice, and let go of striving. Yoga is a practice that leads to living well and fully. The pose never ends.