How Yoga Is Like Your Life

Yoga photoYoga is such a great metaphor when it comes to your personal development.

In a previous post we discussed that by learning to bring an attitude of love to your personal development, you heal, become whole, and ultimately find the freedom and happiness you long for.

Another way to view this love and acceptance stuff is by taking a quick look at yoga.

Yoga looks like a bunch of people stretching. The more you go, the more flexible you become and the tighter your ass/abs, right?

Not so much.

Below that conventional yoga approach is a deeper yoga. As my yoga teacher Matt likes to say, most folks think that yoga is about flexibility. While this is true on one level, the deeper cut as Matt reminds me, is that yoga is the ability to meet resistance (your inflexibility) with acceptance. The more you meet your edge with acceptance, the more the resistance begins to release, and the more “flexible” you become.

Force does not work in yoga. Trust me, I have tried it. When I was “trying hard” and “pushing it” I would consistently throw out my back and I even dislocated my shoulder twice. But one must engage the resistance, the edge, in order to gain the fruits that lie just beyond your resistance, which is more openness, expansion, more flexibility, and ultimately more love.

During a yoga class one can very easily put their attention on their lack. How much flexibility you lack. Each day you come in with an improvement project to get more flexible. You beat yourself up, try harder, and eventually if you are stubborn and stick with it for years, you might actually become incredibly flexible on the outside. Once you reach what that other guy in class is doing you are not necessarily farther along. Because “how” you achieved this is problematic.

You got there through your old habit of pushing and working hard. So, your body learns that to open, relax, accept, and surrender to love and openness, you need to push, try harder, and work harder. So, you did little to become more flexible and open in your “inner” body or mind. You willed your body into compliance through an egoic process and as a result, you will keep getting the same old results out in your life.

This old-school approach is where most men including myself fall victim to the typical masculine belief that:

effort = results

Instead of your habitual trying-to-get-somewhere attitude, practice loving what is, in this moment. Let love, compassion, and acceptance be your attitude and see what happens. Notice what style of “yoga” you live in your life? Are you always trying to force something? Or maybe you want to will your way to success?

Bottom line? The attitude with which we bring to yoga (and our personal development journey) is the key to our freedom. So, instead of the old way, try this one:

love and acceptance + “right” action = results

If you think acceptance is giving up or being weak check out these teachers on acceptance: Tara Brach and Byron Katie.

Stay tuned for yet another post coming up on this tricky paradox of personal development and how focusing on “what’s working” can further increase your results.

1 Comment

  • Love it! What a great article. Yes, it is an unfortunate truth that most of us guys are programmed to think that force is the way to solve problems. One of the cool things that yoga teaches us is “allowing”. When I first started doing yoga 16 years ago I had an attitude of “right, I'm going to get this figured out” It's almost laughable to see that written.

    Rather that getting anywhere in a yoga pose, it's much better to allow my body to move into the pose just as much as it can. It's more of a “resting-into” than a “getting-into”. And as contrary to much that we have learned as it sounds, I have found this to be the key to deepening and enjoying (which is important) my yoga practice.

    That allowing attitude also helps develop the inner practice of yoga. The increasing gentleness and surrendering of the self-violent patterns allows the groth of awareness to be fulfilling and graceful. This in turn allows us to be “in the flow” where life is magical and giving.

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