In yoga we try to balance in the poses, we balance strength with flexibility, we balance left with right and we’re trying to sense what’s going on in our body. We need to sense in our body how far we can move into a stretch. However, often we have lost this type of connection with ourselves, because we are so used to pushing over our boundaries or not pushing them at all. This article focuses on those who push themselves over their boundaries.
The title of this blog is a famous quote of Eckhart Tolle, who is considered one of the most spiritual people of the moment. This quote never had a real significance to me, until I (re)stumbled upon it recently. This simple quote started to make a lot of sense, because I had experienced the effects of not leaving a pose, but also, I often see that yoga practitioners try to get out of a pose whenever they start feeling discomfort.
This is exactly the interesting contradiction of what I am writing about. Practitioners prefer to leave the poses when it gets uncomfortable, but on the other hand, we often push over our boundaries as if it is nothing.
To explain this concept, I prefer to use my own experiences. Ever since I was little I used to push myself in various ways; I always wanted to be better, do more, achieve more and be some kind of super woman. When I was in university I was studying for my Masters Degree, enrolled in a Full-Time board function for a student organization, working in the weekends to make money, meeting up with friends every night and I was trying to be the most amazing girlfriend ever. Nothing was less important, all had to be done, I always felt like there was no option. Until my body and mind had made the choice for me: it shut down, so I went from all to nothing. For months I was so tired, walking on egg shells, not enjoying the good things in life, because it always felt like I had no option, like it was another task on my to do list.
What this example shows is how pushing over your limits goes beyond uncomfortable. And what it also shows is that boundaries can be moved, but only if you do it for a short period of time. On the long term it will get back to you.
That is also very true for yoga. When people come to class, they often come from work, are on their way to another activity and have a mind that is racing. That is because we live in a fast paced world, where we all want results quickly. This short-term focus causes that we push ourselves further than we can. However, in yoga we are supposed to do the opposite, we slow down. We don’t go for quick results, but we build everything up slowly. So when we go too fast and we are not aware of what is going on in our body, we will hurt ourselves. And all we do is a simple exercise routine that we can do in every gym around the corner.
In yoga we sense, we connect our breath to the movement, we create space in our body, we discover where our boundaries are, we show respect to our body, we don’t let our mind control us, but we let our body tell the story. We don’t go for the quick wins, but we train for a marathon. So the moment we realize we get uncomfortable in a pose that is the moment where we can learn, because in that exact moment all our automatic responses and habits come into place. And instead of giving in to our mind, we give ourselves the gift of breaking down our old habits. And that is what yoga is all about.