Seeking peace in downward-facing dog

Yoga and I are still in the early blush of our relationship. It’s like dating a new, wonderful man: I can’t stop talking about how great this is, how it’s different than anything I’ve experienced before, how hopeful I am for the future. I’ve been practicing for several months now, and regularly attending classes for two. We’re deep enough in this relationship to give me the confidence that it will last a while.

The instructor whose class I attended last night often asks us to set an intention for our practice. She said the word strength had come up several times in her day, and so she focused on that throughout the class.

As I hung in down dog, I ruminated on her words. Yoga is a place of strength. I’ve fallen in love with yoga for its mental benefits; because there’s such emphasis on the breath and focusing on the present moment, practicing yoga helps me slow down, eases tension and allows anything I need to deal with to bubble to the surface. It’s often a physical manifestation of mental strength, as we breathe into difficult postures and endure discomfort because we know it will lead to a greater good. And the physical results are a manifestation of that: Though it generally isn’t why I practice, I can’t deny that I love the muscle I’ve developed.

As we moved into half-pigeon, the instructor began talking about vulnerability as the opposite of strength. I’ve learned a lot about vulnerability in the past year, about letting people into my life and admitting when times are hard and I don’t have it all together. I’m an independent person, but I don’t believe people are meant to face life on their own. I’ve learned to soften and to listen to the encouragement others offer (and I think that’s shown me how strong I can be). I’m not one to quote scripture in every situation, but a portion of 2 Corinthians 12:9 came to mind: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

I’m in the middle of a rough patch, where I’m being shown both how strong I am and how many people are willing to be strong for me when I’m not capable. (I even talked to the yoga teacher before class, and she paid me special attention throughout, showing grace to a near-perfect stranger.) I’m grateful for these quiet moments when I can seek peace.

1 Comment

Filed under Autobiography, Yoga

One Response to Seeking peace in downward-facing dog

  1. This is so lovely, Carla Jean. Your writing is beautiful and I love hearing about your journey with yoga. Well-done.

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