Why is Yoga so Freaking Hard?
Still falling over in crow pose after a year of practicing?
Getting frustrated because your heels aren't on the ground in downward facing dog?
Struggling to find the motivation to get to your 9am Saturday morning class?
Lucky if your meditation lasts over 5 minutes without you giving up and putting the kettle on?
I hear you!! The question is ... why is the yoga practice so goddamn hard? In a word ... because it's supposed to be! With any type of learning we have to put ourselves in unfamiliar territory to gain new skills and understanding.That is the definition of learning. And that my friend usually requires some amount of discomfort because we are delving outside of our comfort zones. Yoga is no different. Just because it is a spiritual practice does not mean it's easy. It requires training, discipline and effort, just the same as if you're learning to ski, play guitar or train for a marathon. I'm sorry to disappoint you but we don't magically float into arm balances and we're most likely not born with the mental capacity to sit in meditation for hours on end. Disclaimer: ok, ok you got me ... so eventually you do 'float' into arm balances but the 'magic' is not some form of unattainable enlightenment, it's years of practice and study of how the body moves in space. Nothing magic about that! Personally I feel there is a myth that as yoga practitioners, we lie down on bolsters all day and stretch, eat mung beans and then sit around in full lotus pose. Social media also leads us to believe that advanced yoga postures such as arm balances and handstands are easy ... flimsy bikini in place, not a drip of sweat in sight and a serene smile on the face (even when smashing a tripod headstand on a jagged rock at sunset!). These images are supposed to be aspirational and a celebration of the awesome abilities of the human body. It is true that any advancement in skill requires dedication, patience and devotion to the practice. The question is ... are we willing to go through the 'hard stuff' to get there? Whether your goal is to stand on your hands, to sit for longer in meditation or to develop a daily practice, you are going to come across challenges on your way there. Such is life. This problem is that as humans we have been conditioned to want everything to be comfortable and easy. We have invented all sorts of ways and means to 'wrap ourselves in cotton wool' so to speak. We have comfy sofas, heated car seats, air conditioning, painkillers, fast convenience food etc etc. No wonder it is such a struggle for us to face challenges when they arise! For me, yoga mirrors life, and one of the biggest gifts of the yoga practice is that it teaches you to not only face challenges but to actively invite them into your life. Each time you attempt a posture you find challenging you open yourself to taking a risk. Each time you fall you become ok with failure. Each time you come to sit in meditation and you find stillness in your body in order to sit with the fluctuations of the mind, you create space for all this 'stuff' to come up. Know this ... to truly practice yoga is an incredibly brave thing to do.
IT IS NOT SUPPOSED TO BE EASY... the journey of self growth never is.
And if it was, you would miss all of these beautiful lessons. Understand that in yoga, as in life, you are never going to get everything 'right', you are never going to succeed in absolutely everything you do, you will never please everyone. In truth you can never control the outcome of your practice ... the only thing you CAN control in the dedication and effort you put in ... to know wholeheartedly that the practice begins at the end of your comfort zone. And also know that if you do your best ... your best is always enough. I'll leave you with this beautiful reading from Pema Chodron ... "In life we think the that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem. The real truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together for a time, then they fall back apart. Then they come together and fall apart again. It’s just like that. Personal discovery and growth come from letting there be room for all this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy. Suffering comes from wishing things were different. Misery is self-inflicted, when we are expecting the “idea” to overcome the “actual,” or needing things (or people, or places) to be different for us so we can then be happy. Let the hard things in life break you. Let them effect you. Let them change you. Let those hard moments inform you. Let this pain be your teacher. The experiences of your life are trying to tell you something about yourself. Don’t cop out on that. Don’t run away and hide under your covers. Lean into it. What is the lesson in the wind? What is the storm trying to tell you? What will you learn if you face it with courage? With full honesty and – lean into it" Wishing you a beautifully challenging day