Falling out of tree pose

I never thought I’d be a person that would be into yoga. For starters, I’m terribly inflexible (the sit and reach in gym class was the bane of my existence) and on top of that, my brain doesn’t have a mute button. Great combination for yoga, right? Prior to finding my current studio, I’d go to classes, expect to feel enlightened, and then spend the class feeling frustrated with myself for my lack of yoga skill…and for getting frustrated with myself in a yoga class.

After almost a year of 60-minute classes in a 105* room, I finally get why so many people adore yoga. In the past month though, my practice morphed from something physical into a practice that is physical, mental, and emotional. All of this is because of one pose—tree pose—done in a dark room with my eyes closed.

Tree pose is a standing posture in which you balance on one leg, put the sole of your other foot on your lower calf or inner thigh, and then hold your hands with palms touching either at heart center or raised above your head. With your eyes open, tree pose is a posture that involves some balance but is pretty easy to do. When you close your eyes, however, everything changes. No matter how steady you think you are, you will begin to lose your balance and fall out of the posture within a few seconds. That, my friends, is really frustrating. It also is the reason why the teacher does it.

Off the mat, frustration happens all the time in our lives. We go in to situations with expectations for ourselves or others and then when those expectations aren’t met, we feel one of two things: surprise (when the outcome is better than our expectations) or more commonly, disappointment.

We can’t stop frustration from happening, but we can change our reaction to it. Much like falling out of tree pose with your eyes closed in a yoga class, we can choose to fall more gently in our everyday lives. We can choose to accept the fact that we fell as just that—a fact—instead of as a judgment against ourselves or against others. We can also choose to try again, knowing that we will fall again, but that next time, we will balance a little bit longer and fall a little more gently.

By bringing a peaceful response to our frustration, we free up space to be more loving of ourselves and those around us. As we enter Holy Week, remember Jesus’ ultimate peaceful response to frustration—giving his life for our sins—and look for ways that you can respond more peacefully in your own life.

Thoughts, comments, and discussion are always welcome.

-Lisa

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