“Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at the moment.” ~Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth
Dancer's Pose is supposed to be graceful -- pointed toes, fingers in Gyan mudra, simultaneous kicking and reaching. This has become a posture of grace for me as I have found the balance. I kick, I reach, and I fall straight forward.
Right when my yoga practice was beginning to reach a new phase of exploration, I woke up with the beginning stages of shingles. This forced me to allow my body and mind to succumb to a state of rest.
The Gift of Physical Struggle
Yoga is an experience of humility and awareness. It is not a practice that has an end. We do not eventually learn postures and move on. Yoga helps us work through our blockages and brings us into the present moment. Our physical struggles are often a tool to step us into a space of awareness; through physical trial, we become truly present and can peel away the layers to uncover exactly where our real conflict lies.
Only in surrender can we elevate ourselves to the wisdom to accept falling as part of our path. ~Nicole Markardt
Falling out of a yoga pose can be a reminder not to take ourselves too seriously -- to laugh and try again. It can also serve to remind us that surrender is also part of our practice. Just as in life, illness and pain serve to help us surrender to the present moment and see the root of our imbalance with greater vision. Whether in life or in yoga, falling is never graceful.
Why We Need to Fall From Grace
Everything that we experience serves a purpose. Our path develops with every relationship, and even a single conversation can evolve our consciousness. If we resist falling from the highs of life, we cut ourselves off from feeling and developing.
I often find myself resisting the low points in my life. Even in my yoga practice, if there is a posture that I have executed beautifully in the past, when I fall out of it, I find myself feeling disappointed and let down. My practice was going so well. I have been so committed. Damn it! Why can’t I do this? There is an inner dialogue that is filled with self doubt and frustration.
It is then that I take a step back, breathe deeply, and shift that inner dialogue to one of development, acceptance, and finding peace. What do I stand to learn in this moment? Am I rushing to the beautiful ending and not allowing my body to adjust and find alignment? Am I not present and breathing through this process? It is in those questions that I find peace.
We must fall from grace. We must fall sloppily and feel the misalignment in order to realign on our path. Sometimes we need to realign our thoughts. Other times, our heart needs to align with its own truth. Very often, we just need to take a breath.
How We Can Begin Again
Whether we’ve allowed self doubt to creep in or felt depression begin to envelope our being, once we emerge, we’ve left something behind. A new self, a new paradigm, or a new perspective has been birthed from the darkness. We regain a sense of understanding over our inner landscape. We move ourselves out of the role of victim and claim our own growth by empowering ourselves from a space of limitation.
We may start out feeling isolated, frustrated, and angry when we fall, but through surrender, we can transform this negativity into peace, openness, and joy for what has arisen. The power shifts back to ourselves, and we begin again from a fresh new perspective. That is the true gift of existence.
Universal Rewards for Courage
As we move through our yoga postures, we realize how the combination of effort and surrender in our physical practice corresponds to the effort and surrender it takes to grow and expand.
We're always trying to define ourselves, but who is really behind the label? When we fall and stumble, we are forced to face the person behind the label. Once we can find acceptance with this, we have found courage. Rather than succumb to self-defeating, “I’m a failure” mind chatter, we can lovingly accept ourselves with compassion.
The purpose of our journey is not to free fall down a shame spiral every time we fail. These (supposed) failures teach us where we need to grow, help us accept our process, and serve to open our hearts to the most sacred being we’ll ever experience: ourselves. We are worthy of offering ourselves radical empathy and compassion.