Despite much cultural evidence to the contrary, we don’t practice yoga so that we can be good at headstands. Yoga wasn’t created so that you could learn to put your foot behind your head or to have a six-pack or work on your yoga booty. (What even is that?)
Yoga is training for real life. We call it yoga practice because we are practicing for what will happen when we step off the mat. The mat is the rehearsal room for real life. How we respond on the mat is how we’ll respond out in the world.
This last week has been intense for those of us who are working towards justice in the world. That our country fosters racism and misogyny, et. al. shouldn’t surprise you, but that blatant racism and misogyny have been enshrined in the highest office of government really hit me below the belt, and has, at times, completely overwhelmed me.
But this is what we’ve been practicing for.
All the uncomfortable positions you’ve put yourself into and learned to sustain were practice for this. All the poses you’ve held for minutes longer than you thought you could were for this moment. Every time you have wanted to quit but haven’t. Every moment when your mind wandered but you brought it back to the breath. Every time you spoke to yourself with compassion.
All of it was for this moment.
Because you’ve been practicing, you know what to do. Because of your practice, it gets easier to stay present, to breathe, to remain calm and centered despite the emotional and political apocalyptic shit storm that’s been moving across the landscape.
When it feels like all hell has broken loose outside, you have the skills to find calm from the inside. This is what you’ve been practicing for.
When your mind is spinning 1000 miles an hour, you are able to slow it down. This is what you’ve been practicing for.
When anger and panic rises up overwhelmingly, you know how to find your center. This is what you’ve been practicing for.
When fear squeezes your chest like a vise, your can breathe to loosen its grip. This is what you’ve been practicing for.
We practice to reduce our suffering and to reduce the suffering of others. This work is nothing new. You’ve done this before. You know how already. All the rehearsing gets you ready for this moment, and the moment has arrived.
You can handle what you think you can't. You can stay present just a moment longer. You can breathe one breath, and then another, and another.
This is what we've been practicing for.
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