Your interest in yoga, I’m betting, has resulted in the following comments from friends and family: “Oh, I could never do that. I’m not flexible enough.” “Why would you want to be a pretzel?” “I just can’t relax that much.” “I need a physical workout.” “Well…Good Luck!”
They just don’t get it.
You want to be a daredevil. In the truest sense. Throwing your body into wild yoga poses is not what I mean. Of course, the “stealthy” side of Yoga will result in flexibility and hella-strength. But that’s not the goal.
You are daring to control your mind under intensity. It’s a whole ‘nother animal. And it’s the heart of yoga.
It’s a time-tested and remarkable system of re-gaining control of the wildest horse on the planet: Your Thoughts.
Ancient Yogis had the mind under such a reign that walking across hot coals was met with calm. Extreme, yes…but…what lesson is here?
Life is INTENSE. Feelings, passion, longings, needs, disappointments…..It’s how we meet these intensities, and the resulting thoughts, that really make it a decent, or crappy, journey.
It’s all about the spark before the flame…noticing that you have a choice as to how you react to what is arising…how we choose to respond to that anger/passion/intensity/boredom that is about to full-throttle us into feeling something.
When feelings arise, a lot of us back away, hide, succumb, give up, fight to the death, swallow, ignore (play with our smart phones) without awareness…. And we always end up missing the fruit of the moment. Then we wonder why we’re unhappy. And we think about it. A lot.
Intention, or Sankhalpa in yoga, gives us a way to navigate the reaction-spectrum of fight or flight and to explore the grey areas between. We acknowledge that the MIND is going to dictate how we handle the intensity of life, re-program that message (samskaras, in yogic lingo) through intention, resulting in a different outcome. The future literally gets re-written. And so do the resulting thoughts.
“I am stronger than I think” “I will let her speak and I will listen” “I will say what needs to be said” “I choose to remain present with my family” “I am part of something bigger” “I do not know what I do not know”…fill in your own blank…Your own path/words will be revealed when you are on the mat and actively listening to your own mind.
Intention actually CHANGES the outcome, which changes your life. We see ourselves able to handle intense moments with clarity, grace, calmness, and most importantly presence. And being present is the only way to see the truth. It is the only way to acknowledge the innate joy that is your birthright.
Particularly through challenging and intense poses on the mat, remember that your mind and thoughts are akin to a wild horse. You have the power to guide it, but it must be trained through practice. Take the reigns through breath and intention and a relaxed face and body, through yoga…..And you will find yourself able to control these forces that, before, may have seemed uncontrollable and out of reach. You have the power to pause. Learn to lengthen the moment between that spark (intensity) and the flame (reaction). Set an intention. You can react differently. And? Become more TRUTHFULLY YOU.
Let the power of yoga get you back in control of the wild horse…your mind.
Citta Vritta Nirodha. Yoga calms the fluctuations of the Mind.
Try our Yoga Immersion for Beginners series for new-comers to yoga. You will walk away with a new perspective, perhaps a new life….as well as a wild pose, or two, to show your friends.