Hot, vinyasa power yoga is my jam. Why? It is the hardest form of exercise I have ever done. It kicks my ass every time I am on the mat. Some days it’s a tiny bit easier when I’m in the zone and well-hydrated; other days, it’s a struggle, so much so that I must stop myself and reset in Hindi squat or child’s pose before getting back up and breathing through it.
So, if it’s THIS challenging, why do I do it? Why do I intentionally walk into a practice that splits me open? Why do I put myself through this type of intense practice several times a week?
Because it’s transformative for me.
The most challenging yoga instructor I have once said this at the beginning of one of his classes:
“Life is going to kick the shit out of you… often. I’m here to make sure this class kicks your ass harder so that anything else that comes at you during your day seems like a piece of cake.”
I laughed out loud when I heard him say that. This man pushes us like no other to power through and get it even when we are exhausted, hurting, and wanting to just freaking quit and lay there on the mat listless. He moves us so rapidly through big, deep transitions; he challenges us every time we are on our mat.
That type of challenge isn’t limited to just him. Another instructor will say this when he sees everyone starting to drop:
“Why are you here? What did you come for? Are you getting what you showed up to get? Are you limiting yourself?”
There’s no other way to say it – this kind of pain sucks. Big time. It hurts because you’re opening up – physically, emotionally, spiritually. It hurts a fucking lot. But what’s the alternative?
Do I really want to stay closed off, cold, shut down? Do I not want to take risks and not try to allow love in? No. Friends who love me keep telling me to throw up some walls, woman; protect yourself stop being so vulnerable. Hell, no. I’d rather run with knives and risk everything for the shot-at-over-the moon than live with walls up and numbness inside.
When we allow it, pain gives us our greatest opportunity to see who we are. Where are we strongest? What do we do well? Where do we have more work to do to be stronger, wiser, more humble and more patient? It can also show us what we need to stop doing. If we look closely we can identify toxic patterns and let those go, as well. That’s the gift of pain.
From a creativity lens, pain fires me up on the inside. Case in point: I am typing this blog at 2 o’clock in the morning. When I learn to use the pain and mix it with my creative flow, I learn to trust more versus hyper-overanalyzing.
Shift the lens on pain this week. Invite it in; welcome it. Say hey pain, you want to go, let’s fucking go. Trust it to show you what you need to know. Listen to it. Allow it to make you stronger and wiser. Each time that pain kicks your ass and you think about not getting back up… get up. Ask yourself, why am I here? What do I want or need that I am not getting? Then, get back up. Find your stronger and wiser self and do it again. If I’m not willing to wade through some mud, how am I ever going to fully blossom into the lotus I am seeking to become?
That’s my not so sexy truth.