Recently I visited our nation’s capital with my family. The monuments and memorials were beautiful and captivating especially the Lincoln Monument, the Jefferson Monument, the FDR Memorial, and the MLK Memorial. These men possessed the uncanny ability to put the deepest sentiments and poignant ideas into simple words that speak volumes. On more then one occasion I found myself thinking that I would love to practice yoga in this sacred space. My children would have been mortified, but the thought remained.
This is one of the quotes inscribed on the wall of the MLK Memorial.
“THE ULTIMATE MEASURE OF A MAN
IS NOT WHERE HE STANDS
IN MOMENTS OF COMFORT AND CONVENIENCE,
BUT WHERE HE STANDS AT TIMES OF
CHALLENGE AND CONTROVERSY.”
This quote could just as easily apply to the content of one's character as it could to one's yoga practice. There are few times in our lives when we are confronted with a serious challenge and/or controversy. How we respond versus how we hope that we respond is largely unknown until we are called to task. However, our yoga practice is a way to gear up for and measure our reaction to these very situations.
In every yoga class you are challenged physically and mentally. You try to do what most folks would find unthinkable: balance your body weight on your hands while contorting your body, stretch in ways that your friends and family could never imagine, or hold a yoga pose for what feel like eternity. These physical and mental trials on the yoga mat are a way to prepare for and measure how you will respond to a major challenge or controversy in your life. So when you struggle with a difficult pose, keep calmly persevering. Focus on your breathing instead of coming out of a pose, and keep exploring what your body needs to do to find balance in both the simple and more exotic poses.
Life is like a yoga class. Most of the time you get Warrior I and Tree Pose. However, one day you will be asked to do Warrior III with Eagle Arms, a one handed handstand, or place you feet behind your head. How will you handle this? Will you breath and attempt the unimaginable with a calm mind, will you sit back and watch, or will you check out? What will you do when life throws you a small curve ball? How will you handle a major upheaval? Perhaps the answer lies in your yoga practice?