Posted by: Bruce Black | July 1, 2019

Listen to your breath

Listen to your breath
and release the tension
in your gut,
the tightness
beneath your ribs,
the worry and fear
and doubts.

Listen to your breath
and let go of expectations
of what you think
you should be doing,
of voices telling you
to do this
not that.

Listen to your breath
and sit listening for
just a minute,
then another,
and peel away
the layers of uncertainty
that keep you from
listening closely
to your heart.

And when you exhale,
breath out the
sadness and loneliness
and disappointment.

And when you inhale,
breathe in the joy and
thrill of being alive
in this moment.

Exhale–
selfishness
greed
and jealousy.

Inhale–
gratitude
wonder
and love.

Listen to your breath.
Breathe.

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Posted by: Bruce Black | June 1, 2019

Waiting

Sometimes you just have to wait for a wound to heal, a line at the post office to move, or a traffic light to change.

Sometimes you just have to wait, and you can’t help becoming frustrated or feeling as if you are being ignored or that your time isn’t being taken seriously.

Sometimes you just have to wait, and you worry something might have happened to the friend who you are waiting to meet, or you grow anxious that you’ll never get in to see the doctor, or you feel rage rising when it seems like your car, stuck in traffic, will never move again.

Sometimes you just have to wait, and you might wonder: Why do I have to wait???

But waiting is an inevitable part of life, and …

If you can accept it and are able to let go of frustration and anger and disappointment…

If you are able to look around at the blessings surrounding you and choose gratitude for the time you’re given rather than feeling frustrated…

If you can see the abundance your life is filled with and appreciate the hundreds of miracles your life is composed of … 

If you can see the kindness and care your doctor gives her patients and the years of training and sacrifice and hard work it took her to become a skilled physician instead of getting upset by the long wait at her office… 

If you can see the friendship that you built over the years with a special person and the love and care and trust that you’ve shared with each other instead of becoming annoyed by the wait that you have to endure for your friend to show up…

If you can shift your perspective, you can deepen your understanding of each moment.

Sure, sometimes you just have to wait, but how you spend the time waiting makes all the difference in how you experience each moment.

It’s what our yoga practice teaches us, isn’t it?

How to wait with patience as we learn a new pose or practice a challenging flow.

How to let go of frustration and impatience and not take falling out of a pose too seriously (or personally).

How to notice each moment without judging it, and how to savor the joy of each moment as we come into a pose and then leave the pose behind with grace and gratitude and try a new pose.

Yoga teaches us to see ourselves as we are in the present.

Not where we might want to be or where we think we should be.

But where we are now.

PS – Written while waiting twenty minutes for an acquaintance who never showed up.

Posted by: Bruce Black | May 1, 2019

Yoga at Thirty Thousand Feet

No matter how many times I sit on a plane as it taxis to the end of the runway for take-off, I am still nervous about flying.

I tend to worry about things that might go wrong—what if this, what if that, a kind of what if loop that keeps running through my head— so it’s no wonder that I tend to get anxious before a flight.

But since starting a yoga practice, I’ve found ways to short-circuit that loop and relax before and during airplane travels.

One of the secrets is to focus on my breath. 

Whether I’m sitting in the gate area waiting for my section to be called, or walking down the jetway, or taking that last step from the jetway onto the plane, I notice how following my breath—the magical act of inhaling and the equally magical act of exhaling—can help alleviate anxiety.

My breath reminds me that I am rooted in the present, the future has yet to unfold, and the past is already history.  Mindful breathing helps me remember that I am alive, in this moment, and each breath helps me enjoy each moment more fully, even when I’m sitting on a plane.

After I’ve boarded the plane, buckled my seatbelt, and we’ve left the ground, I’ll monitor how I’m feeling as we zoom across the sky at thirty thousand feet.

If I notice my neck is stiff when I turn to look out the window, I’ll acknowledge the stiffness and then begin doing gentle twists, turning my head in one direction and then the other, tilting my left ear toward my left shoulder, then tilting my right ear toward the right shoulder.

Or I might carefully draw circles in the air with my chin until I begin to feel the muscles on the side of my neck and the back of my head relax and loosen.

If my legs feel tight or cramped during the flight, I’ll stand in the aisle and, after making sure the aisle is clear, I’ll try to balance on one leg, then the other, raising my foot an inch or so off the floor in a modified Tree Pose.

Even though I’m tall and the ceiling is too low for me to lift my hands over my head, I can move my shoulders, lifting them up and down, sideways and backwards, to relieve some of the tension in my upper back.

If the flight is smooth, I might try (while still standing) to bend slightly from side to side at the hip, or even try to do a modified Air Chair Pose to stretch the back of my calves and relax my lower back.

When the seat belt sign is illuminated and I can’t stand up in Mountain Pose because the flight is too bumpy, I’ll stay seated and begin exploring the muscles in my lower back, abdomen, quads, and hamstrings. 

With a slight adjustment in my posture, I’ll sit up straight so that I can feel the muscles in my abdomen begin to work. 

Another helpful exercise is clenching and unclenching my toes (inside my shoes or in my socks if I’ve removed my shoes) so that I can feel the muscles working in my toes, along my arches, and all the way up the front of my shins to the back of my calves. 

While sitting, I hug my leg muscles to the bone and can feel a surge of energy moving up the legs from my feet through my shins and knees all the way to my thigh bone and hips.

It’s energizing to feel these muscles contracting and relaxing, and I’ll repeat the sequence a number of times until I feel tired or the muscles feel relaxed sufficiently or else the steward or stewardess arrive with the cart of snacks and drinks.

Wherever you happen to find yourself—whether it’s on your mat in a new hotel room or thirty thousand feet above the ground—traveling can take its toll on your body, and a little yoga on route to your destination, or once you’ve arrived, can help you remain calm and relaxed and restore your equilibrium. 

And if you’re lucky, as I was last week when I stayed a few days in a Chicago hotel, you might even find a yoga mat rolled up in the closet waiting for you.

Practice Journal: What part of your yoga practice do you take with you on your travels? How does yoga help you relax in stressful situations? How do you find equanimity when away from home? Write: 15 minutes. 

Posted by: Bruce Black | April 1, 2019

Working with partners

Whenever my yoga teacher suggests that we work with partners in class, I feel my throat tighten and my hands start to sweat.

Yoga is a solitary activity for me most of the time. Rarely do I talk to anybody after I step onto my mat to practice. Part of what I love about yoga is how it lets me ease into myself without having to worry about other people or their needs.

When I’m with people, I notice that I tend to put their needs ahead of my own. I’ll worry if I’m talking too fast or too softly. Or I might worry if I’m listening closely enough or if there is anything they might need.

On my mat, alone, however, whether at home or in the yoga studio, I can leave behind the worries of my everyday life and simply be myself. I can be curious about who I am. I can stretch and move in ways that meet my needs rather than someone else’s. I can listen to my heart and hear my thoughts without any outside interference.

So on the days when my teacher tells us we’ll be working with partners, my sense of self–that private self, which I usually find on my mat–changes, pulls back, and draws inward into silence. In its place appears my public self, the self that I show to the world.

It’s this self that reminds me to be attentive to the needs of my partner, but not in a worried or anxious way. I try to help them figure out if they’re comfortable in a pose, and, if that pose eludes them, I try to help them find that position.

As their partner, I want to make sure they don’t hurt themselves. (Speaking of injuries: It’s interesting to reflect on the injuries that I’ve sustained in yoga and to note that they’ve occurred most often when I worked with a partner, and my partner didn’t pay close enough attention to what I needed in that moment.)

I’ll try to examine their pose and suggest ways that they might gain better alignment or I might offer an idea to help them relax deeper into the pose.

And then we’ll switch places, and they’ll do the same for me: reciprocating kindness,

It always surprises me how much I enjoy working with partners after I overcome my initial resistance.

There’s a harmony that I find when I work with someone else. It’s a deeper connection than I expected, and in that connection I’ll discover something else.

It happens when my teacher asks each of us in class to take a few moments to look into our partner’s eyes.

And what I find there, reflected in their eyes, is a sliver of my own humanity.

This moment of inter-connection, of gazing into another person’s eyes, is in many ways the hardest part of working with partners; it’s the most challenging pose of all.

We’ll stand opposite each other, separated by less than a foot, unsure where to look, uncertain if we might be intruding in our partner’s privacy or stepping too far into his or her personal space.

After a few minutes of mild embarrassment, though, we’ll gaze steadily into our partner’s eyes, and, once we’ve taken a few deep breaths, we’ll find that we have discovered a new way of understanding each other.

It’s a kind of magical experience. A stranger, a person who we might not have known before the start of class, becomes our teacher, and we find ourselves having gained a new way of understanding trust and gratitude.

In the end, working with a partner can teach us how to be sensitive to another person’s needs and our own so that each of us can stay safe, avoid injury (although, admittedly, it doesn’t always work out that way), and more fully experience each pose.

Practice Journal: Have you worked with a partner in your yoga class? If so, how did practicing yoga with a partner differ from practicing on your own? What did you discover about yourself when you worked with a partner? What new skills did you learn? And how did you feel about your practice (and yourself) after you finished? Write: 15 minutes.

 

 

Posted by: Bruce Black | March 1, 2019

Traffic lights and yoga

Can someone tell me why traffic lights in Florida last so long? 

Red lights in the Sunshine state seem to take forever to change to green.

When we first moved here from Philadelphia more than a decade ago, the length of time we had to wait for traffic lights to change struck me as v- e- r- y  l- o- n- g.

I remember staring with impatience at the red lights, tapping my fingers in frustration on the steering wheel, telepathically trying to to make the light change more quickly.

Of course, telepathy didn’t work. Nothing worked. No amount of finger-tapping or staring or wishing made the light turn any faster. 

Instead, I had to learn how to adjust to my new surroundings. (The lights in Philly seemed to change much more quickly!) I had to learn how to regulate my inner timer to the timer regulating the speed that the lights changed from stop to go.

What helped me adjust to the pace of life in Florida, especially to the pace that it took for traffic lights to change from red to green, was my yoga practice.

I hadn’t realized that sharpening my skills of observation on my mat during my weekly yoga class, as well as increasing my ability to be patient, would help me live life with a greater sense of equanimity one day.

Nor had I realized how my practice was helping me become more aware of time unfolding in moments and seconds, or how I was learning to savor each moment of life to the fullest

But one day on my way to yoga class I noticed with delight that I was no longer impatient or angry when I had to stop for a l- o- n- g time at one of the many stop lights on my route.

Before taking my yoga classes I would have gotten frustrated by the wait for the light to change.

I would have started tapping the wheel impatiently with my fingers.

I would have felt my frustration growing.

I would  have thought waiting for the light to change was a complete waste of time.

But on that day, when I stopped for the light, I noticed that I was no longer upset about having to stop and wait.

Instead, I took the time to express gratitude for the red light, for the safety it provided drivers when they passed through the intersection, for all the workers who had helped install the light, for all the men and women who had voted to put a light at that busy corner. 

Waiting was no longer a problem; instead, it became an opportunity for growth.

I found that I was grateful for the chance to stop.

Time waiting at the light was no longer wasted or lost.

Instead of getting frustrated, I took the opportunity to notice what was happening in the moment.

I checked in with my breath. (How was I breathing? Was I tense? Relaxed? Were my shoulders slumped forward? Was my stomach clenched?)

I scanned the sky. (What did the sky look like? Were there any clouds?)

I noted how the wind lifted the branches and swept through palm fronds.

I used the time to appreciate the world around me. 

Stopping at the red light, which used to seem so long and cause such frustration, became a chance to pause and look closely at how time unfolded, how each moment arrived… and dissolved… and how a new moment of life arrived.  

Today when I stop at a light, I no longer wish I am somewhere else, no longer wanting to be in the place where I’m going but haven’t yet reached.

Instead, I use the time at stop lights to deepen my sense of joy at being where I am and to meditate on the gifts of my life.

Each stop light, each stop sign, now offers another reminder to stop and appreciate what’s around me.

It’s the same kind of joy that I feel on my yoga mat each time I take a deep breath, close my eyes, and give thanks for where I am in that moment.

Practice journal: How has your yoga practice helped you become aware of the flow of moments, one into the next (even when you’re stopped at a traffic light)? What might you have seen as a waste of time that you now see as valuable?  What skills have you learned on your mat to deepen your appreciation of life in each moment?  Write: 15 minutes. 

Posted by: Bruce Black | February 1, 2019

Making Progress

Even though I’ve practiced yoga for more than a decade, I continue to take the beginner’s class each week, and I watch with a certain amount of admiration and envy as yogis who I started practicing with fifteen years ago have gone on to complete teacher training programs and now teach their own classes (or, if they haven’t become teachers, take more advanced classes).

It’s how progress is measured, it seems. If you move up to the next level class, you’re making progress. If you stay in the same class month after month, year after year, well, then there must be something wrong if you haven’t moved “up.”

I find it interesting that the number of years I’ve practiced or how consistently I’ve attended classes doesn’t matter. What other people (not necessarily yogis) look at—or what I imagine them looking at—is the simple fact that I’ve remained at the “same level” as when I started years ago. In the minds of some my decision to stay in the same place may be perceived, I suspect, as a kind of failure to fulfill my potential. Either I’m not pushing myself far enough or I’m lazy or I’m a laggard.

In my head I can hear my critical voice echoing similar thoughts and asking “Why aren’t you practicing the poses that other people are doing?” and “Why aren’t you as limber or as strong or as daring as so-and-so?” or “Why do you keep coming back to the beginner’s class if you are no longer a beginner?” Why, indeed. 

One of the things that yoga has taught me over the past decade is how to listen to my body, and to understand what my body might need in a given moment. It’s how I measure if I’m making progress. Am I learning to listen to my body? Am I getting better at listening? 

What my yoga practice has given me is an important tool to lead a mindful life. It’s taught me how to pay attention to my body, and to listen in a deeper way to what my body needs, and to understand which poses might be appropriate and which might be beyond my body’s ability to perform. 

As I age–and let’s face it, we are all aging–I’ve become much more cautious about taking risks that might lead to an injury. Yoga has taught me to be mindful of these risks and the danger they may pose. It may seem like I’m not making progress, but, in fact, staying in the beginner’s class and recognizing that I don’t feel comfortable going upside down is yet another way I’m making progress. (It’s also another way of practicing yoga!)

Some might call my decision to stay in the beginner’s class or to stop going upside down a reflection of an internalized fear of moving forward, perhaps a fear of change. (What they might not know is that I stopped doing headstands six months ago after I came close to hurting myself doing a headstand in class one day.)

Some might encourage me to try again. Some might see reluctance as a failure to progress in my practice. But I see something else: my ability to recognize dangers that I hadn’t seen before (in my youth) and that I can recognize now (as I age).

And I see another form of making progress, as well: my ability to respect my own vision and my understanding of the world without worrying about how my vision might compare to anyone else’s vision or expectations.

There are times when I think the yogis who are so intent on moving up to the next level are seeking a kind of perfection, thinking if only they can master this pose or that pose, they’ll have achieved perfection. 

But luckily I have a teacher who often reminds us that “Practice makes practice.” Not perfection. Just more practice.

If there’s a goal in yoga–and I’m not sure there is one–it isn’t to achieve perfection but to practice the pose so you can practice it again and again and learn from it what you might need to learn but hadn’t noticed the first (or second or third) time you tried it. 

My teacher also says “Basic doesn’t mean easy.” And that’s true, too. His basic classes are never easy. They challenge me in unexpected ways that are appropriate for where my body is now, at this particular moment, at this particular age. 

There are days, I must admit, when I do wonder if I’m pushing myself hard enough and think about taking an intermediate level class. But these feelings pass as soon as our beginner’s level class begins. It fits my needs with its minimal inversions, moderate pacing, and reinforcement of the basic principles of alignment. 

Will I ever go beyond the beginner’s level again? I don’t know, and, honestly, I don’t care. It doesn’t matter what level I’m in as long as I continue practicing and learning and making my own kind of progress. 

Journal Practice: How would you describe the progress you’ve made in your yoga practice since you started practicing? Where have you made progress? And where have you fallen short? Do you see a connection between the progress and expectations that others have of you compared to those that you have of yourself?  Write: 10 min

(If you’d like to check out my book, Writing Yoga, where I share more of my insights into yoga practice, visit: https://www.shambhala.com/writing-yoga-3700.html)

Posted by: Bruce Black | January 1, 2019

The Pathway In

One of my yoga teachers always used to begin our classes with a story.

Sitting cross-legged in Sukhasana (Easy Pose) on a mat at the front of the room, she told us one morning about her sister, who had lost her sight.

Sometimes, my teacher explained, she would practice in the dark, hoping to gain greater insights into what her sister might be feeling. 

I still remember that class. It was unlike any other yoga class I’d ever taken.

After telling us about her sister, my teacher invited us to practice on our mat with our eyes closed so that each of us might find a pathway into a different experience of yoga. 

And so, trusting her, we stepped onto our mats and closed our eyes, and the world became dark as we stood in Mountain Pose, even though outside our classroom the bright Florida sun was shining.  

We had become sightless, no longer able to “see” the world around us—the walls, the windows, the floor, the doorway to the kitchen, the other yoga students in the room in front of us or beside us—and we had no way of orienting ourselves, no way to reach for something familiar. There was only darkness. 

But it wasn’t only darkness. 

When I closed my eyes, I felt as if I slid beneath the surface of the sea into another world. It was a world of interior space and new feelings—feeling off balance, then in balance; feeling confused, yet liberated; feeling scared, then elated—as if closing my eyes had loosened the bonds of gravity and I was floating free from my usual perspective. 

My eyes were closed,  but the world had become brighter, more colorful, more intense. Even more remarkable, darkness let me see a new pathway in.

It was a path leading to a deeper part of myself. 

With my eyes closed, I was able to “see” the poses differently and experience the world around me with different senses. No longer could I rely on the gift of sight. I had to rely on my other senses in order to unfold in the poses.

Closing my eyes and being unable to see helped me understand something that I’d forgotten. More than one path can lead to understanding.

This is what our poses teach us, I think, whether our eyes are closed or open: to see the multiple layers of the world with wonder and to live a life fully conscious of our perspective and how it shapes us and our world.

Each pose gives us a new pathway in.

Practice Journal: Isn’t it interesting how an unexpected challenge can open our eyes and offer us a new perspective, a pathway to understanding that we might not have found if we hadn’t encountered the challenge? How has a recent challenge helped shift your perspective so you could find a new path? And where did the path lead you? Write: 15 min.

Posted by: Bruce Black | December 1, 2018

A Gift from the Universe

Tall or short, fat or thin, each of us has a different body.

It can be a source of pleasure for some of us, a source of pain for others.

Some of us might be embarrassed by how we look while others might feel pleased with our appearance.

We might bend in similar ways to touch our toes or twist to the right or left, yet each of us moves in our own unique way.

We have only one body.

It cannot be duplicated. (Well, maybe it can be cloned soon… who knows?)

It is unique, a one-of-a-kind gift from the universe.

And yet, until I started practicing yoga, I took my body for granted.

Even though I was a runner in my youth (and still run), and even though I enjoyed walking and hiking and biking (and still do), and even though I was active and relied on my body to participate in sports and other activities, I wasn’t really aware of my body.

On some level I think I was ashamed of my body. Or maybe embarrassed is a better word to describe how I felt about my body then. I tried to pretend my body didn’t exist because it didn’t fit into the comic book stereotype of a well-muscled male with broad shoulders, bulging biceps, and gleaming pectorals.

I’m just your average, ordinary guy. Thinner than most guys. Taller, too, though not by much.

I noticed my body only when I came down with a cold or the flu and had to rest in bed, or if I injured myself—a skinned knee, a sprained wrist, a tender Achilles tendon—and had to wait until my body healed.

Even then, even though I was impatient to return to action, I still didn’t really see my body. It had always been there, and it felt like it would always be there, and I believed in my youthful innocence that it would always stay the same and never change.

Awareness of my body in all its uniqueness came years later with yoga. And with this awareness, over time, came appreciation.

It started with my feet. Yes, my feet.

One of my teachers in a restorative yoga class invited us one evening to massage our toes, the soles of our feet, our heels.

Until that moment, I’d paid little attention to my feet with their oddly shaped little toes and fungus nails and peeling skin. I believed my feet were ugly. As long as they did their job—getting me from here to there every day—I ignored them.

But that yoga class helped me realize that my feet were unique. They were my feet! I took pleasure in the feel of my fingers kneading the flesh on the bottom of each foot. I enjoyed the feeling of my toes being massaged, my skin being rubbed.

Most importantly, I took delight in the fact that I had feet.

That class inspired me to treasure my body instead of ignoring it. I learned to appreciate the gifts of my body, to be grateful for the way it could move in different poses.

Yoga gave me a new perspective on my body.

How could I have been embarrassed—even ashamed!—of something so wonderful?

How could I have taken my body for granted for so long?

Before taking yoga classes, I spent too much time thinking—imagining a future that I couldn’t control, worrying about a past that I couldn’t change.

I spent way too much time in my head.

Once I started practicing yoga, though, my body saved me. It took me out of my head and helped ground me in the present moment, in the here and now of each breath, each heartbeat.

As the year comes to a close, I hope you’ll make time for yourself and your body, to nurture it and show it some gratitude for all it’s done for you to help you live each day, and for enabling you to reach your fullest potential.

Take a moment just to breathe, to acknowledge the body you’re in, the unique, one-of-a-kind structure that makes you you, and, as you inhale, give thanks for the opportunity to be you in the year ahead.

Practice Journal: How has your body changed since you began practicing yoga? And how has your perspective of it changed? Write: 10 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: Bruce Black | November 1, 2018

The Kula–A Community of Hearts

In this morning’s class, my teacher spoke about the kula—our community of hearts practicing yoga together—in a new way.

He expanded this idea of community to include those who we love, as well as those who we have loved, even though they may no longer be alive, but who continue to live on in our memories and who we still hold in our hearts.

The kula, when seen from this perspective, is an ever-expanding community of people who have touched us deeply in our lives and who we may have touched deeply.

On our mats we stand in Mountain Pose, and, alone, we are a single mountain. But if we lift our gaze and look around the room at the other people on the mats besides ours and behind ours, we can see that we don’t stand alone.

We are part of a mountain range, a collection of Mountain Poses, each pose strengthening the person behind or in front or on the side of us to stand stronger in his or her own Mountain Pose.

The circle of one’s kula expands outward in ever-widening concentric circles. It can include those in the class at that moment, as well as those who may have been in the class last night or last week, and those who will come to class tomorrow or the day after.

Even though we cannot see everyone in our kula in the same moment, they are part of the life-force energy that forms our yoga community.

And as my teacher suggested, our kula—our community—can extend beyond the present moment, reaching into the past and the future.

It can include all the people who we have ever loved, and, as we practice on our mats, we can invite them to join us in our practice so that we can feel their presence. Feeling this connection can inspire us to reach deeper, hold a pose longer, find a pool of inner strength to draw on that we didn’t know we possessed.

I might think of my brother, for example, as I stand in Vishtanasana or Warrior I, and find that my love for him strengthens my legs and lets me bend deeper and twist with a little less effort.

It’s as if the love that I have for my brother permeates my entire being while I’m doing the pose and makes the pose feel lighter, less of a burden. It’s still a challenge to hold the pose, and my quads still feel as if they might constrict and collapse before I take another breath, but I am able to find a way to stay in the pose, in the moment, because of the surge of energy that I feel connecting me to my brother.

Even though my brother and I are separated by hundreds of miles—my brother lives with his family in Virginia while I live with mine in Florida—I can feel the memories of our lives together fill me with joy.

And even though my father is gone, I can still conjure his memory and feel his strength and confidence, the same way I can feel my mother’s love, though she died almost forty years ago.

It’s as if we are all part of the same flow of energy–even after we die–and this positive energy can sustain us in our lives and can support us if we let it.

We have only to listen closely enough to those we love, to the community of hearts surrounding us, to those who nourish and support us, who are part of our kula.

Practice Journal: How do we become part of a kula, part of a community of hearts? How do you decide which kula to join? And how does choosing a kula differ from being included as a member of a kula by virtue of birth or religion? What traits do you want to see in a kula? How does a kula influence you in positive or negative ways? As you practice, who are the people who you hold in your heart and inspire you to practice, to live more fully? Write: 15 minutes.

Posted by: Bruce Black | October 1, 2018

The Unpredictable Nature of Life

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” – John Lennon

“The world is so unpredictable. Things happen suddenly, unexpectedly. We want to feel we are in control of our own existence. In some ways we are, in some ways we’re not. We are ruled by the forces of chance and coincidence.” – Paul Auster

Unpredictability.

It’s what life throws at you when you’re least expecting it.

A car that swerves without warning into your lane.

A lump that appears one morning in your breast.

A re-assigned gate fifteen minutes before your plane is scheduled to take off.

Each time we step on our mats, our yoga practice helps us deal with the unpredictable nature of life.

A wobble or loss of balance in Tree Pose can become our teacher in learning how to deal with shifts in the way our life is balanced.

A sharp pinching in our knee in Pigeon Pose can alert us to the way we need to shift our position in relation to other people or to ourselves.

What we don’t expect becomes our teacher.

Thanks to our yoga practice we can learn to view the unpredictable nature of life with calmness and assurance rather than with fear and panic.

Yoga can help us take a step back.

It can help us notice our response and evaluate it.

It can help us ask the questions we need to ask:

Is our response appropriate?

What causes us to respond the way we do?

Why do we respond in a particular way?

Yoga can inspire us to ask these questions and more so that asking “What am I doing?” can lead us to ask “What do I want to do?”

And questions like these can lead to yet others, such as “How can I do what I want?”

Each yoga pose can help us cultivate discipline and patience.

Most of all, our yoga practice can help us learn to accept life’s unpredictable nature.

It can help us accept, as well, our own mistakes, imperfections, and flaws (which are part of our own unpredictability), and can give us the tools to view our responses with clear eyes and without judgment.

Even though life’s unpredictability can be challenging, our yoga practice can teach us how to respond in thoughtful, meaningful ways to the unpredictable surprises that life might hold in store for us in the days ahead.

Practice Journal: How has yoga helped you deal with life’s unpredictable nature? Write: 15 min.

 

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