Learning Patience in Yoga

My yoga teacher told us to pull back in class yesterday.  And while in my downward dog I did, and it was easy and I felt great.  “Pull back,” she said.  I guess this is something they teach Yogi’s.  Maybe this is one of life’s secrets and something they teach during yoga practices – when the desire becomes overburdening, when it starts to hurt too much they just pull back.  And it seems like it would be easy to pull back when you want something so badly it hurts.  When you want it so bad it aches inside.  Many of us, myself included, don’t pull back.  Like bulls we race forward in full force, hard core.  It’s all the way or it’s no way.  To pull back feels like it would be a weakness, it feels like it would be giving up.  It feels incomplete to pull back.  I still am not completely sure what it means to pull back. But I do know that on Sunday afternoon I did one of the best downward dogs of my life… and all I had to do was pull back.  It’s something I’m still figuring out – even as I’m writing this.  Like a lot of other complexities, it’s an idea that is much easier to understand than it is to live.  And though my downward dog may be pretty stellar, the process of translating this concept to other areas of life seems more difficult.  Is it because we continue to push when we should just hold back and wait another minute?

One of the awful things about youth is that it lacks patience.  We don’t want to wait, we just want to keep on going until we can’t push any more, until we’ve worn ourselves out, until we feel like there is nothing left to push. And then we don’t want to push at all.  We don’t want to give up.  So maybe the only other option is to pull back.  Now, once again, this  is all much easier said than done.  And life experience is the only thing that can teach one patience.  Of course, being young we don’t want to wait to live our lives.  We want to have already lived it, the secrets and wisdom pouring out before our time.  But patience is worth waiting for.  Hopefully one day being patient or pushing too hard won’t make us feel like we’re caught between a rock and a hard place.

It’s really all about timing because if the pause is in the wrong place, the whole joke will fall apart.  So maybe it’s really about enjoying the pauses, the in between, the pull back that makes living so great and that gives us stories and lessons to relay.  There’s nothing fun, interesting or worth remembering about the time you ran so hard and so fast that you ran right into the closed glass door – other than maybe some stitches and a broken nose.  Perhaps age teaches us to live with a greater sense of ease, a little more patience and some pull back.  Namaste.

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