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Yoga Speak: Exit Strategy

A yoga class demonstrates to Anne the strength of staying power.

Life, pretty much, cooks along for the most part. In general, things go according to plan in what my son refers to as “The Land of Anne”. Sometimes, though, challenges pop up along several fronts, and I can find myself navigating some choppy waters. Sometimes, it can feel as if I have been at sea for a while.

On a recent trip, I was most eager to attend a yoga class, hoping to find calm with the room baking, the sweat dripping, the muscles twitching and the instructor talking.

Stay in it, she said. It was your decision to come here. Don’t think about running now. 

We were in Eagle Pose with Garudasana arms and Garudasana legs. This pose begins in Chair Pose with legs and feet pressed tightly together, knees bent like a skier while the heart opens forward and the arms extend upward. It is almost like trying to sit in an imaginary chair but instead hovering above it. To enter Eagle Pose from this position, the right foot lifts off the ground, the leg wraps over and around the other at the knee, and the arm wraps under and around the other at the elbow. The eyes find their focal point, or Dristi, and the body holds the pose.

In this class, we faced the windows. I held the pose, trying to keep my balance while standing on one leg with the rest of me wrapped up tight. The instructor continued her wise words.

Some of you might be thinking about your exit strategy right now. Maybe you think you can’t do the pose like the others; that you are different and that is reason enough to leave. Maybe you difference yourself out in life, too. That is how we isolate ourselves.

I hovered in Eagle Pose, my quad muscles protesting. Am I more open to listening when my body is working its hardest? I blinked the sweat into my eyes as it occurred to me that, in the past, I have used what I perceive as my differences from others to take flight from situations. It is an easy way to opt out of conflict. I thought about a complicated confluence of events and, while the instructor spoke, I imagined myself unlocking the window that served as my Dristi, spreading my wings like the Eagle I was at the moment and flying away.

But that would be too easy, even if it were possible.

We switched sides, first reaching to the heavens, then settling down again and this time wrapping the left leg over and around the other and the left arm under and around the other. I looked out the window, found my Dristi once more, and listened as the instructor continued, encouraging us to maintain the pose and stay in the moment.

It is when things get difficult that the good stuff happens, she said. Stay in the pose. You did not decide to be here just for the easy parts.

An Eagle can learn a lot, and this made sudden sense to me. Ordinarily, I would want to run from my challenges; however, I know life is not made up of only easy parts. It gets complicated. It gets messy. Not everything can always be fine in the “Land of Anne”.

Just the other day, I had been discussing with a colleague the challenges I found myself facing. It was unusual for me to chat much along these lines as I mostly keep my own counsel; but, it was raining, there was coffee and the office was cozy. It was conducive to a chat. 

You are entering a new season, my colleague told me. A blessing is coming your way. Turns out, her mother always tells her that when things get rough in all directions, big changes are coming. 

Surprisingly, these words made me feel instantly better. I could be ready for a new season! I could be ready for a blessing!

Both sides complete, we unwrapped our Eagle arms and legs and stood tall as we stretched our arms to the heavens once more, then brought them to heart center and folded forward. Relief. Release. The hard part was over.

I had stayed in it and was better for it.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Hank Modlin January 25, 2012 at 02:33 PM
your yoga goes to your brain and then directly to your heart, or is it the other way around. either way, yoga creates tranquility for the brain and heart, or so it seems from your writings.

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