The other day I mentioned to my students the workshop I will be leading at Willow Street’s Takoma Park Studio on standing balance poses on May 8th. I received some responses that sounded basically like: “standing poses? But I am so bad at them.” “A great reason to go. You aren’t bad at them if you are present to your fullest whatever you are doing; you just find them more challenging than other poses. It can be great to work in those areas to try and reveal ease in being challenged,” was my basic reply.
In keeping with John Friend’s teaching that we come to the mat either to celebrate the fullness of our spirit or to remember its delight when we have forgotten, I think there are two basic reasons to come to a workshop. The first is going to one where we know it will concentrate on our favorite poses and practices. We know we will go a little deeper, discovery something new, and have an opportunity to relish our favorites for a solid period of time. Delightful!
The second reason is to challenge ourselves intentionally with poses that are difficult for us either physically or emotionally or both. For me, the mini-arm balances have always been the least accessible. They push my buttons in all sorts of ways. I found, though, that when I finally faced my fears and weaknesses and agreed to go to them and discover why for so many of my friends they are naturally joy-inspiring, bliss-exuding postures, my appreciation for the practice as a whole grew immensely. They still aren’t the “strongest” area of my practice, but because of that in some ways I know them better and can offer more when teaching when than when teaching the poses that I do with less concentrated effort.
I think we need to rest where it is delightful sometimes. Always going for the challenge can just give a sense that life is too hard and practice is not worth the effort. But intentionally studying and practicing from both perspectives is what gives us more ease and light in the full spectrum of being. Going to a full range of workshops, gives you both in a great way. I try to take workshops whenever I can. (Reminder for those in town: April’s Serenity Saturday at Capitol Hill Yoga is next Saturday, April 17th from 3-5–it’s a great way to get some yoga during Willow Street’s break week.)