Steady As She Goes

Life has recently lobbed a few lemons my way—a handful of issues in my new apt, boy trouble just when things were going so well, and a lovely bout of pink eye. Despite the dents in my otherwise very fortunate life, I’ve managed to respond with a good deal of resiliency–okay there was one sniffle-fest, but I fully attribute to exhaustion. You may think I’ve been drinking the Kool-Aid when I say this but I genuinely attribute my rapid bounce-back rate to my yoga practice.

No, I’m not in the camp that believes yoga is a panacea and that no matter how difficult life gets one can peacefully levitate in lotus position above it all. Let’s be real. Honestly? I feel rather shitty right now. Moving is stressful, heartache seriously hurts, and eye infections–well, goes without saying, they aren’t much fun. Yoga has taught me to acknowledge and embrace the highs as well as the lows in life. By cultivating self-awareness I’ve learned to welcome all feelings (shitty included), treat myself with kindness and compassion (especially when times get tough), and then Let It Go.

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Yoga comes from the root ‘yog’, which translated means to unite, merge or bring together. The ultimate goal of yoga (and several Eastern religions)—Samadhi—is all about emancipation from duality. Right versus wrong. Good versus evil. Happy versus sad. The list goes on. Yoga’s role is to bring these oppositions together, thereby ‘releasing’ you from your suffering. Truth be told though, I think it would be pretty boring if we didn’t get to experience the rise and fall of life’s mercurial waves.

The way I see it, yoga’s ultimate function is to restore balance to your life when events or emotions throw you off course. If your head and heart or mind and body fall out of sync, yoga can help repair those disconnections and make you feel whole again.

In life, we  often find that we’ve reached these incredible climaxes–a new love interest, amazing job opportunity, or an epic adventure. Unfortunately, there is almost always a flip side. When you’re floating on cloud nine, it’s all too easy to fall mercilessly.  So what then, when you’ve hit rock bottom? The only way up is to get your feet beneath you, root down, and rise until your sense of balance is restored. Contentment is found in that middle ground where reality meets fantasy, where the pragmatist and the dreamer meld. Think about when you’re at the beginning of your practice, standing grounded in tadasana (mountain pose), fingertips reaching up to the sky and you pull your hands down into prayer in front of your heart. You’re channeling those dual energies, root and rise, into one centered state of ease and serenity.

The challenge is to root without grasping, to rise without lifting off. But when you do find that balance, that sense of letting go, then you begin to see that the world around you is balanced too. That even on your  toughest days it is possible to see a cheery yellow iris in bloom (in January in DC no less!) and soften with a smile, or to thaw a frost-bitten heart by enjoying the simple pleasure of a yummy latte from your new local coffee spot.

Ah yes, everything will be okay.