VOLUME III Issue II January 8, 2012; 3:25pm EST
All of the yoga postures or asana's, provide us an opportunity to play with the ideas of "push" and "yield" and yet we can extend this energetic experience into our daily lives.
As we approach each yoga posture (or any other physically demanding activity), we need to push ourselves to move the body further into the posture. This allows us to deepen the stretch and challenge our self to exert more effort and strength to sustain the posture or move deeper within the pose. This active energy of "pushing" allows us to build strength, and flexibility. There is another equally valuable force that it is important to bring to the table with our awareness. "Yielding" is a passive force that allows us to wait and listen to the feedback from our body. We are able to let go of resistance without being forceful or aggressive. Often, the act of yielding or surrendering within the posture makes the posture more available to us. I have found in my own practice, that I am often the one that is in the way of my own progress. I have been trapped in the tangle of my own frustration with my body when I blame and get frustrated with the limitations of my body in any pose. When I am able to breathe and relax, or "yeild" into the posture, I am reminded that my body just needs time and practice, pushing, and yielding. Each day that I show up on my yoga mat, my body greets me with new possibilities, and sometimes even new limitations. I can challenge myself and yet stay soft and remember that my practice is a process and I have to be mindful of the "release" that can be experienced through my asana practice.
We can orchestrate these two forces beautifully and gracefully through the breath. The breath becomes the linking force between active and passive, doing and not-doing, control and surrender, pushing and yeilding. We can learn to be soft and subtle even in the midst of intense physical effort or stressful situations if we can bring our attention back to the breath. The beauty of yoga is being able to remain mindful in the experience and bring an inner attitude of trust and acceptance to our yoga mats. Our breath can orchestrate the tone of our practice and bring these two energies into balance.
Contemplation: Stay with this energetic idea of pushing and yielding. How can you use the breath in other areas of your life to balance the active and the passive, the receptive and the expressive?