Navigating the Path

Posted by Steven Russell on Saturday, September 29, 2012

 Life is a path. Sometimes we are running down the path. We trip on bumps. Sometimes we crawl on our hands and knees. Rarely, it seems, do we pause on the path just to enjoy where we are. So often we get distracted by how much we think our path should look like another’s path, or we are worried that if we pause, people will think poorly of what might appear as our laziness. Consider your yoga practice, or any form of physical, spiritual, or mental activity as a path. To be even more specific, let’s consider one yoga move, or asana, as a path. Tree pose, or Vrksasana, for example, is when the body balances on one foot. In a good yoga practice when doing such a pose, one wants to achieve a balance between having just enough challenge put upon the body and mind, and enough comfort where the body can relax the parts it needs to in order to keep the body in the pose, the breath can relax and deepen enough to keep the body from falling over, and the mind can focus on its own body without being distracted by other bodies and activities. In tree pose the standing foot needs to stay relaxed in order for the weight of the entire body to be balanced on it. If the panicking mind causes the foot to tighten, it becomes very easy to fall over. A person balancing the body in tree pose needs to proceed down the path of adding a bit of challenge and must know when to stop down that path and allow relaxation to settle in where the mind can reflect on simply breathing. Many times in a class setting, other students and the teacher will move farther down that path to the level of challenge that they need to be at that edge of challenge and comfort, and the mind, pushed by the ego and not wanting to be left behind, entices some people to go too far in adding challenges simply because someone else is, and the body topples over. We all need to gain the wisdom to know where on the path to pause, and the strength to be comfortable in that place where we can simply reflect on where we are without having to prove to others that we can take on more than we can handle. May our standing foot always be relaxed, and our ego be content with our awesome spot on the path where we can simply breathe and be.


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