Breath in the Face of Complaint

Posted by Steven Russell on Friday, November 29, 2013

clientuploads/srutkatasana.jpgDo you hate complainers? Or even worse, whiners? There’s a yoga pose called Utkatasana, often translated as Awkward Pose, or Fierce Pose, or even Hazardous Pose. Good name. I used to hate it. It’s a complaining pose.  It nags about everything that my body finds uncomfortable. For the pose you sit back in midair as if you’re sitting in a chair, but there’s no chair there. Sometimes people call it Chair Pose. For the longest time while I was doing it in a yoga class all I could think about was, “How long am I going to be in this?” “I hate this pose.” “If I collapse in this pose everyone will think I’m as bad at yoga as I know I am.” “This teacher hates me for making me do this pose.” “I suck. This is my last yoga class!” 

You see why I call it a complaint pose? What do I do now in Utkatasana? I breathe.  That’s it. Just breathe.  Deeply.  Long slow breaths. I’m not going to say the pose is easy.  I can’t hold it a whole lot longer than I could while I was mentally abusing myself, but that’s not the point. The complaints my body was making to me and the complaints my mind was whining at me are allowed to dissipate into their invalidity during the time of my deep breaths. My relationship to my body can heal a bit as my body benefits by the wisdom of the pose. 

Maybe I should try that with complaining people. Can they possibly be worse than Utkatasana? Could their complaints have more validity than the pummeling I used to give myself? The next time someone complains to me I’m going to look them in the eyes during a long deep inhale and exhale and see what happens.  My hunch is, unless there is an urgent matter I need to address at the moment, they’re going to look away.  In the deafening silence of my respiration I bet they’re going to say something quite different than their original compliant. Perhaps I’ll learn as much from my encounter with them as I do each time I breathe through Utkatasana. 

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