Discovering the art of life through yoga

Life is about dancing the edge between right directed effort and surrender to what is.  It is in the finding of this balance, that peace arises.

I realised this morning during my yoga practice (when I probably should have been concentrating on my breath rather than thinking) that what makes yoga enjoyable is finding the balance between effort and surrender. This involves consciously contracting certain muscles and relaxing others, all of which depend upon the asana involved and also what you are working with in your body at that moment. Too much relaxation leads to dullness and too much effort leads to strain and over-exertion.

6 months ago, whilst travelling in India, I got really sick and ended up so weak I couldn’t do any asana practice. When I returned to my practice after a few months recuperating, all of the strength, grace and flow had gone. Like my body, it was stiff, awkward and clunky. This lead to too much pushing and eventually yep, you’ve guessed it, a hamstring tear. Since then I have been working on healing my hamstring, building strength and finding my grace and flow. I haven’t been able to understand why I wasn’t enjoying yoga much – what was it that was missing?

Before I got sick, I was able to easily drop into that state devoid of thoughts and all that existed was the waves of my breath carrying my body through the intimately known sequence of postures. I realised that I had become too much about the effort – too much pushing, too much straining and too much wasted effort. Instead of isolating the muscles that need contracting and relaxing others – it was about contracting all muscles. Phew no wonder yoga is now hard work. I need to put in less random hope for the best effort and more right directed effort, whilst also learning to relax. This is one of the keys to a joyous yoga practice.

What goes on in your mat is a mirror for what is happening in your life. This got me questioning where else this pattern was playing out in my life and what results it was producing…this wasn’t a comfortable exploration. However, if it works in yoga then maybe it would work for my life too?

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