By Guest Blogger: Kino MacGregor
Yoga is hard and arm balances are hard. There’s no way to make it all easy. If you think that yoga should be easy you may be depriving yourself of valuable learning. It’s actually when yoga is the most challenging and difficult that you grow and learn. So many people don’t try hard poses because they feel like they can’t do them. But in the yoga practice, it doesn’t matter if you ever succeed. It only matters that you try. The quality of your effort unlocks deep wisdom and spiritual expansion because you learn how to face failure, and accept it with grace and humility. Eventually, whether you get the pose or not, you learn how to keep your peace of mind in body and soul, which is so much more meaningful than any pose.
And yet, it’s a delicate balance. If you jump too far too fast you may find yourself feeling overwhelmed and even injured. The trick is to practice just at the edge of your limits, try something that is hard but not defeating, and gently push the boundaries of what you believe is possible. Practice is slow, incremental change over the course of your life that delicately bends the arc of your consciousness towards the highest truth and the brightest light. This is why you practice. Any pose is just the finger pointing at the moon. It’s not the goal, but a tool to help you realize the goal.
It’s easy to get obsessed with the poses though, especially when you’re first starting. Sometimes your mind is kind of obsessed with yoga. You think, sleep, eat, breathe and dream about yoga! In your spare time, you play around with the poses and talk about yoga non-stop. That enthusiasm is so powerful! It carries you through adversity and gives you strength to face things you wouldn’t otherwise be courageous enough to face.
Photo: Agathe Padovani
Years ago, when I was first starting, I would spend hours playing around with the poses. It wasn’t always totally pure. I definitely felt I had to earn my worth by mastering increasingly harder poses. I don’t know when it shifted but something big changed. It had to do with my self-worth. I spent years trying to be stronger, to lift higher and do more. Then, one day I realized I was already so much stronger than I ever knew. I didn’t need to do anything in order to be worthy of all the happiness I sought and no pose would ever make me whole. Instead, my practice shifted from a place of striving and effort to a place of grace and surrender. It was almost like I had to go and achieve all those poses only to realize that it was never about the pose. It was always about me learning how to believe in myself and love myself.
Off the yoga mat, one of my biggest lessons has been about boundaries. I want to say yes to everything and I want everyone to be at peace. But sometimes you have to say no and put your foot down. Saying no is often hardest for people whose “no” hasn’t been respected by the world.
To stand your ground is hard for people, so often women like myself who have been victims of other people’s aggressive actions. Reclaiming the simple truth of no means isn’t easy. It’s a process that takes years. I’ve learned that sometimes you have to fight for what is right, sometimes you have to be brave enough to stare down a bully, even if it’s scary and you feel you have everything to lose.
Photo: Agathe Padovani
As a survivor of sexual assault, boundaries, and self-love have been a struggle for me. Yoga has led me to the sacred space of healing, not because of all the poses I can do, but because I meet my true self in each breath. The truth always sets you free.
About the Author:
Kino MacGregor is a renewed yoga teacher, author of four books, producer of 6 Ashtanga Yoga DVDs, co-founder of Miami Life Center, Yoga Challenge and OmStars. Kino's dharma is to help people experience the limitless potential of the spirit through the inner tradition of yoga. She is helping us design a monthly yoga capsule collection featuring Extra Long leggings, Shine shorts, and comfort-fitting bra.