If I can name only one thing that yoga has given me, then freedom it is. Freedom in how my body can move, freedom in how I spend my days and especially freedom in how I experience my life.
Partly that freedom came with the practice of yoga postures (and meditation) itself. Just because they automatically make you feel differently. Like that downward dog calms you down and that backward bends open your heart. Or maybe you will experience peace and rest in Paschimottanasana (the forward ‘stretch of the west').
In addition, it is also comes with training the mind. By becoming more aware and recognizing my own responsibility. As one of my teachers says: "there will come a time when you have to take responsibility for your own actions". And this is NOT about pointing fingers. Neither to yourself. At least not in the form of judgement and trying to find someone guilty. Because if you look deep inside your heart, you will never feel more freedom by judgement (even when this seems easier in first instance).
What is able to help is observing the ‘problematic’ situation. And to go back to the moment when you unconsciously created the current situation by staying in your comfort zone. What were you trying to prevent, avoid or not rather not wanted to recognize at that moment? Maybe that your body was different at that moment than you would have preferred? Like another clothing size or other degree of flexibility or strength than you would have liked? Perhaps you have taken less care of something or yourself because it didn’t suit you at the time?
Instead of judging the moment, are you maybe able to look at the thing you become aware of as something 'special'? That's a big deal! To recognize that you have learned something about your underlying motives? To acknowledge this without trying to shift the consequences? Shifting consequences, by trying to hold someone else accountable afterwards, doesn’t help in the long term anyway. Not only because it affects your sense of honesty, but especially because you will not adjust your behavior and will continue to end up in similar situations.
What you do want is planting new seeds. A different kind of seeds. Because only if you start planting a different type of seed, you can expect different results. Strawberries just don’t grow from tomato seeds. And maybe you just like me love tomatoes, but if you prefer strawberries, you have to start planting strawberry seeds...
Taking responsibility is not always easy. Surely it is courageous and powerful. Even if you have the tools to do it, it is quite normal that the moment you are in the middle of it, it feels difficult and frustrating. That's okay... you are doing the work to get out of your comfort zone.
As soon as you notice that things no longer happen to you, you have visibly found your key to more freedom in your life (including in your mind, body and in the yoga postures). In the meantime, it helps to keep on faith. Confidence that it will work out eventually. This faith can be the catalyst that makes you start (and keep) looking for the ‘how’. Whether this is in a yoga posture or something that disappoints you next off-the-mat.
In yoga postures you can work on this by keeping an active lift, even (and especially) on the end range of motion. Because there you always have a great opportunity to take responsibility, to increase your resilience and to plant new seeds. The more you connect with what you feel in your body, the easier it becomes to feel your underlying motivation. And thereby to locate the possibility where to start planting different kind of seeds.
Curious about the role I have given the control freak in me (which is latent still present)? That can study the technique / alignment in my yoga practice. So I use it to take responsibility in my own yoga practice. So that I practice in a safe way, which helps me to be able to practice yoga the next day as well.
In other words, just as a lotus flower grows out of the mud and uses it as fuel, you can use your challenges to transform. So that you can flourish and experience more and more freedom. This process is not always easy. Yoga is not always easy. But definitely worthwhile!
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