Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Calm & Strong

I taught a yoga class last week and the theme was "calm and strong." We did lots of challenging poses that I encouraged the women to feel calm and strong within.

I love yoga for so many reasons but one of them is for the parallels and metaphors that it shows me to life off the mat.

So the other night I had an interesting observation as the group was in Eagle pose (a challenging standing balance pose). I noticed that as soon as they felt the wobble in the pose, the distraction caused them to avert their eyes from their gazing spot and they would topple over.

I noticed the resistance they displayed when faced with what felt like instability.

I gently reminded them all that calm and strong doesn't always mean still. If they were to just allow their ankle to wobble, they would fare better. The ankle's job is to provide stability. Through movement. Ironic right? But often we find the greatest balance within both a challenge and the movement.

Calm is a place within. It is induced with the breath; intentional long, deep and slow breaths to activate the parasympathetic nervous system.

Strong comes from a silent and steady commitment to get through to the other side no matter the degree of discomfort. The messiness between doesn't reduce the degree of strength that exists. Even though we believe that to be the truth.

Neither mean stillness. Neither mean perfect. Neither mean a lack of obstacles or challenges. We make assumptions that when we feel the wobble (in balance poses or in the form of discomfort in life), we must stop and have therefore failed.

No! The wobble reminds us to focus on what we want. It's an alarm clock to our conscious mind, reminding us to ride the wave of the wobble, rather than fight it.

Calm and strong can (and should!) exist amongst the chaos and storm. Together they require internal stability and centering. Calm & strong involve faltering. And getting back up to try again. They both quietly commit to trying no matter what and whisper "you are okay" when you wonder. They are there, you just have to let them in.

It's incorrect to think that being calm and strong (on or off the mat) means the same as non-struggle. After all, it's through the struggle that the greatest lessons and evolutions happen.

The only way out is through right? So if you're going to get through, you might as well put on your game face, find your center and stick to that no matter how insane the storm around you is.

This is one of the things I adore about yoga, both in practice and as a teacher. I have these lightbulb moments when suddenly LIFE makes sense to me and I discover a new way to exist in this world that fills me and keeps me expanding with joy.

Tell me...what are some of your favourite insights you have gained during your own practice?


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