Posted by: Bruce Black | July 1, 2018

Choosing How To Act

“Every time you are tempted to react in the same old way, ask if you want to be a prisoner of the past or a pioneer of the future.” — Deepak Chopra

It’s a challenge to leave old habits behind, to begin a new way of doing things and set out on a new path.

Our yoga practice reminds us that we have the power of choice; we don’t have to do things the way we’ve always done them. We can try something new.

What is it my teacher, Jaye, is always saying? “If you keep doing things the way you always do them, you’ll keep getting what you always get.”

Yoga encourages in us a desire for exploration, a yearning to know the truth of things, such as how this pose or that pose works, and, if it works, how to refine it. And it encourages us to let go of an idea if it doesn’t work and to try something else instead.

So, for instance, the other day my teacher encouraged us to use partners to kick up into the Feathered Peacock Pose (pincha mayurasana) in the middle of the room since there wasn’t enough wall space.

It was a “new” way of doing the pose, and I was eager to explore kicking up away from the wall and away from the wall’s security. It had the potential to show us a new aspect of the pose and, perhaps, of ourselves.

Only the pose went awry from the start when my partner pulled my hips forward as I kicked up, and the muscles in my back and abdomen (that I had engaged) suddenly disengaged. And just as suddenly I realized I was being given a choice.

Either I could try to pretend nothing was amiss (which is what I’ve often done over the years) and muscle my way through the pose, possibly causing serious damage to my neck, or I could let go of my desire to do the pose and try to come down before injuring myself.

In some ways gravity made the decision for me. Almost before I could stop myself, I felt myself collapsing, my arms lacking the strength to hold me up.

Luckily, I was able to twist on the way down in an effort to protect my neck and spine, and I fell onto the mat without harming my neck. But long after leaving class I couldn’t help worrying that I might have seriously hurt myself. (Thankfully, I didn’t suffer any follow up injury.)

This incident serves as an example of how yoga encourages us to reach beyond where we might be physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

But it also reminds us that we need to reach with care so we avoid injury and can come into a place where we can safely step into the fullness of our potential, to pioneer a new future rather than find ourselves prisoners of the past.

As you no doubt are aware from your own practice, we may find traps waiting for us on our journey, and we may pull back, afraid that we have pushed too far.

But in the process of exploring boundaries, we can learn to become aware of the lines that need to be crossed in order to move into a new zone.

And along the way we can decide to keep going or to step off the path, whether it’s an old path or a new one, and rest if we’re not ready to go farther on a particular day.

Practice Journal: How does your yoga practice help you let go of the old and see new possibilities in each pose? #Write: 15 minutes

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