The physical practice of yoga has been a potent gift which has expanded my body awareness beyond my original expectations. What I do on the mat is a reflection of how I live the rest of my life, and vivid metaphors from the yoga tradition always help me better understand my process and journey.
Yoga is one of the best tools to help to navigate your life, and while you might not always find the perfect, static pose (or feeling), using the time on your mat to go inside yourself can enhance your life in ways you never expected.
Taking on Water
One image that often comes to my mind, for both life and yoga, is that of a boat -- the individual -- sailing along the ocean and smaller rivers of life.
Sometimes the voyage is smooth and easeful, other times the waves begin to swell, and on many occasions, a full blown storm moves through. With skillful maneuvering and engagement with the currents of life, we can better honor the fluctuations and celebrate the diverse landscapes we encounter.
While it isn't always easy to sail and we can constantly evolve our skill, one basic key on a boat is to keep it in working order, so when the large waves do arrive we can still function with intent.
The problem is that many of us at one point or another, or even the majority of the time, are sailing around with a vessel that is silently taking on water.
Yes, we all have leaks that we aren't really addressing:
- A small lie
- An inability to speak our truth and call out the elephant in the room
- Fear of asking for what we truly need
- Lack of trust in the intelligence of life
- Unworthiness of body
- Internal dialogue full of violence
- Rituals that abuse our outer form
- Lack of creativity
- Pointing the fingers at others, while never looking inwards
- Numbing out from challenging situations
- Overuse of negative language and complaining
- Prolonged indecision and confusion
- Unwillingness to address and integrate past trauma
- And many more
The reality is that a boat can keep on sailing with a few leaks, especially if the water is being scooped out and the hole is being worked on and eventually plugged.
But over time, if these leaks aren't addressed we begin to slow down and eventually sink. Moreover, when a storm hits we crumble because our core infrastructure is weak and we've taken on too much water.
Using Yoga to Help
Just like postures on the mat, we don’t need to achieve a static place of perfection, but it is useful to be real, assess the number of holes, ask for help, and take it one step at a time to plug up the leaks so we can ensure our vessel stays top notch, both inside and out.
So use the time on your mat to get in touch with your emotions, both good and bad. Yoga can help you navigate your life in profound ways, and make you all the better for it. And isn't that exactly what we want out of our practice?
What have you discovered about yourself through yoga? Share with us in the comments below!