Saturday DO: breathe and smile.
I used to always hate pigeon pose – the hip opening exercise which you are supposed to relax into for several minutes at the end of a yoga practice. It hurt me, and having to sit through it for so long just made it worse. I’m already horrible at sitting still, and I would fidget with my arms and upper body – trying to get comfortable. This is usually the point where the yoga teacher will include a thoughtful lesson, but the distraction of my discomfort always took away from my attentiveness. Then one class my teacher began talking about the ying and the yang. It spoke to how I was feeling right then and there, and I couldn’t help but pay deep attention.
She explained how the first half of the practice is all about moving fast and getting the heart racing: the ying. This is the part that people usually focus on. They try to keep up and push themselves – moving fast to burn those calories and strengthen those muscles. Then you get to the second half of the practice which involves slow, deep poses: the yang. People tend to think this should be the easy part, but my teacher surprised me in saying that it’s not. The yang portion of a yoga practice has its own challenges like keeping yourself still and maintaining your breathing through uncomfortable positions. I was so relieved to hear that this was supposed to be a challenge, and it was difficult for other people besides me.
I took an important lesson away that day. Challenges don’t always present themselves as so, and sometimes being calm and still is tougher than anything else in the world. Next time something easy turns out to be hard – realize that you set out to do it for a reason and there is something to gain from pushing through. Use your mental power to strengthen your yang, take a deep breath, and push through it with a smile.