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Challenges in Postures and in Life

    How do you approach challenging yoga poses?  For beginners often downward dog is challenging. For me back bending is challenging.  For years I disliked the standing pose, virabhadrasana (warrior) 1.  It felt so awkward to face front, lift my arms overhead, bend my front knee,  extend my back leg, and take my heel to the floor - or not.  My tight shoulders could not align the arms by the ears, my hips and low back argued back and forth about which was it going to be -a back bend, or hips level and facing forward.  It took me many years before I could find the proper alignment for my body with arms held a bit wider apart and my hips and low back found a comfortable relationship to stand steady without a fight. 

     How do we handle discomfort whether in a pose or with a circumstance in life?  I currently find myself squirming with a particular life situation.  It does not feel good.  I've been making adjustments to reframe the unwanted situation to find the highest good in order to allow my thoughts and emotions to come into better alignment.    As a yoga practitioner I am asked to explore and push beyond my attachment to situations.  Just like I should not be bound or attached to expectations of how I think my yoga pose should look. I have to allow the framework of the pose and my body to communicate with each other to arrive at that stable and comfortable place. I am asked to not be driven by habits in thinking and reacting. The practice of yoga makes me go beyond my expectation of how to be seen and treated by the world.  To liberate my mind from the suffering of living in an impermanent world I must not be attached to the  situations of this world.  Reading spiritual texts to learn from others wiser than myself,  reassessing my values, and searching for greater meaning beyond the disappointment that this current life can present, all call me to turn inward to know the higher peace and acceptance from a deeper source within.   I give myself permission to grieve. I give myself nourishment to be strong.  

    Right now I am squirming, but I have faith through my yoga practice that I will come into a new alignment. I move my body to sense the life force and not let it get stuck under tension.  I hold a pose to to check my alignment. I note whether I am being depleted by my sheer determination to make a pose be a certain shape.  At those times I readjust my effort and alignment  to find the grace in the pose where I can relax and feel supported.  I finish my practice lying down in svasana. I go into stillness to allow my breath to relax into the slow, smooth, quiet rhythm of the exhalation and the inhalation. I rest in non-action.  I am powerless to change the situation, but I am gaining strength in acceptance.

     It sure could have been easier for me to avoid virabhadrasana (warrior) 1 entirely in my personal practice, but persistence has paid off.  What I did not like in the beginning I can now tolerate and even enjoy. I no longer have to avoid virabhadrasana (warrior) 1.  I can stand steady in the pose.  Now onto my belly for dhanurasana (bow pose) a deep back bend while bending my knees and grabbing my ankles.   I expect the experience of challenges of yoga poses on the mat will encourage me to eventually find my proper alignment with present life's challenges - and then there will be the opportunity to prepare for the next life situation.


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