Last night’s yoga fundamentals class was fun, as usual. It was tough, challenging and enjoyable, if you can imagine that. One particular pose I found difficult was, of all things, the chair pose with my back to the wall. Now, I understand this is meant to strengthen the thighs and calves without putting strain on the back. We were made to sit in chair pose with our backs to the wall and a block between our knees. Sounds easy enough, right? Wrong. By the first minute, my legs were starting to wobble from squeezing the block. My thighs were on fire and my breathing was becoming uneven and hurried. It was then that I decided to “be one” with the pain. I can almost hear you mumbling “Say what?”
Every time I feel discomfort from doing a pose, I become aware of the pain and then just let it be one of the sensations I feel. In short, I also observe the other goings-on in my body, especially my breathing. (Let me remind you that discomfort is different from shooting or sharp pain. If you feel that a pose is too tough for you, take the easier option. A good teacher usually offers options for each level of difficulty. Your body may need time to get to the more challenging level, so accept that. In time, it’ll get easier.) As the burning and shaking of my thighs became more intense, I became calmer and more aware. I closed my eyes and listened to my teacher exalt the physical benefits of the pose (stronger legs, better posture) as well as the mental and emotional ones (equanimity in the face of life’s many pressures and adversities). I observed my breathing and the discomfort until the three minutes were up and I could relax.
I’ll keep practicing at home until I get to eight minutes!