Leaning Into Discomfort…

As a yoga teacher I often instruct my students to listen to their ‘inner messages’.  But what do I mean by this?  By staying vague I am hoping that each person will discover what inner messages means to them as individuals.  I can not be inside anyone’s body except my own, so assuming I could have detailed knowledge about what another person’s experience of self would like, would be a mistake.  I do my best to guide from my experience, but work hard to leave room for each person to explore within their own experience.

As yoga practitioners become curious to their inner messages they not only become more familiar with their bodies and how they react to their practice, but they also become more familiar with their cognitions and emotions.  While on the yoga mat an individual can safely explore and observe themselves.  The knowledge gathered can then be applied during their everyday life.  In this way yoga practice becomes practice in being human.  It was on a yoga mat that I discovered that by hiding from my fears I also was hiding from possible achievement.

Yes it is important to listen to messages of pain and to back out of striving, but the answer is never all or nothing.  Witnessing our discomfort, without judgement, can bring us so much wisdom.  Brene Brown states eloquently, “Joy is as thorny and sharp as any of the dark emotions. To love someone fiercely, to believe in something with your whole heart, to celebrate a fleeting moment in time, to fully engage in a life that doesn’t come with guarantees – these are risks that involve vulnerability and often pain.  When we lose our tolerance for discomfort, we lose joy.” (The Gifts of Imperfection, p.73)

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