DAY 5 : Yoga Revolution Day 9 (Empower)

Today’s practice was one of contrasts for me. The heat and sweat compared to yesterday’s restorative practice were generally welcome, and I enjoyed feeling the strength that I’ve been building up over the time that I’ve been practising yoga. Being able to move from three-legged dog to touch my knee to my arm on both sides, for example, is something that a couple of months ago I just assumed that I would never be able to do.

On the other hand, there were points in this practice where I got incredibly frustrated. In particular, Warrior III pushed a specific button that made me want to just give up, stop the video and start again tomorrow. Having looked into this a bit, it seems that the challenging nature of Warrior III can push you to your edge and bring up intense feelings of wanting to escape. There was a time when I might have done that, thinking that it wouldn’t really make that much difference in the long run, but today I persisted and acknowledged that stopping would make a difference. This commitment that I’ve made isn’t one that I can just pretend doesn’t exist whenever it’s convenient. I know that I won’t make the progress I want to make if I don’t work through the tougher moments.

That is where, for me, the “empower” aspect of this practice really kicked in. Not only did I need to bring in full body physical strength to hold the pose, but also the mental (and, let’s be honest, emotional) strength to accept the discomfort and frustration and to continue in spite of them. Rather than just going for the YEAH! STRENGTH! approach, it was also a case of marrying that with the ease (sukha) that has been present throughout Revolution so far and breathing into the pose as a full body experience. I feel like I really gained a lot from those few moments of frustration and annoyance with Warrior III.

Speaking of frustration… towards the tail end of this practice I did have to spend some time with one of my least favourite poses: malasana, or the yogic squat. My hips are still so tight that whenever I do this pose I feel like a hunched over little toad, rather than being able to roll my shoulders back and lift my heart. Given some of my own specific BDD issues, this can be particularly difficult. I just need to remember that I am where I am today, and that’s OK. My hips will open, and one day the hunched toad will be a distant memory (although, hey, that toad is just as deserving of some love).

This clearly wasn’t the easiest practice for me. Albert Einstein apparently once said that “adversity introduces a man to himself”, although he almost certainly wasn’t talking about yoga. Perhaps that could be reworked to something like “ease and strength in adversity introduce a yogi to his- or herself”. Bringing that ease and strength to a moment of difficulty can certainly enable a movement beyond the frustration, however briefly, to a calmer and, yes, more empowered self.

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