Ways of Knowing

I’ve been feeling a little self-conscious about my previous post. Because I wouldn’t want you to think that we should white-knuckle it through unpleasant experiences, including yoga poses. Especially the poses that we find most difficult.

We spend a lot of time and energy fleeing the unpleasant, arranging things to be as pleasant and easy as possible. We have our preferences, and we want to set things up so that we get them! The bad news is that ultimately this arranging and avoiding is steeped in futility, given the changing nature of existence. The good news (which I can remember on a good day…) is that this is where things start to get interesting.

How much more freeing it is to learn to observe and breathe with the unpleasant — whatever it is that we resist or want to move away from. Practice starts as we learn how to stay with what’s unpleasant without adding to our suffering. It’s not a self-punishment kind of thing; just the opposite.

What I love most about yoga, in its broadest expression, is that it’s experiential learning. Ways of knowing that are embodied and spirited, based in experience. It’s never just about doing the pose. It’s about not doing the asana, or as teachers say, “letting the asana do you.” What happens in the space all around and inside the pose.

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