When you do your yoga practice, either in class or at home, have you been paying attention to the ‘push-pull’ energy that certain poses have for you?
What I mean is that spontaneous feeling of contraction you experience mentally or physically when your teacher says that you are going to do chaturanga dandasana (the yogi’s push-up pose), for instance, or ardha chandrasana (half-moon pose, pictured above).
Sometimes the push feeling might register as strong aversion, like a tightening in your gut or a furrow between your brows.
On the other hand, at times, you might be pulled toward wanting a certain kind of program when you go to class – restorative poses or a dynamic workout. Then, you feel disappointed when you don’t get what you want and the let down creates tension or disconnection in your body.
The thoughts that your mind generates in either of these scenarios can end up hanging around throughout the class or even becoming more compelling, so much so that you’re not present anymore and certainly not feeling relaxed.
An effective solution is to be with your body’s sensations, whether they generate either push or pull symptoms. To detach somewhat from the thoughts that have created tension, you might say, “Thoughts simply arise.” Notice if this simple phrase makes you feel a little more relaxed. Simply aligning yourself with the way things are eliminates division and paves the way for peace. It’s a great practice whether you are on your yoga mat or off it.
A colleague of mine once said that he went from labelling ardha chandrasana a nasty pose to thinking of it as a nice pose just because he decided to befriend it. Instead of investing his energy in pushing it away, in other words, identifying with his negative thoughts about it, he just ‘be-ed’ with the pose. In the end, poses are neither nice nor nasty, but more like Shakespeare has written:
“there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so….”