Usually the pose that is hardest for you is the one you need the most.
Part of my August series on life philosophies learned from yoga.
Almost everyone has poses they love and poses they dread. I know the one that I dread during every class is triangle (as it’s called in Bikram and Baptiste) or extended side angle, as it’s sometimes called. I’m not sure what it is about this pose I can’t stand except that my hips just don’t really go the way they’re meant to. It also impinges on my neck and forces me to squeeze my inner thighs together to prevent slipping but it never really seems to work too well because I’m also trying to rotate my thigh externally to maintain the hip position. It just generally gets me frustrated and kind of makes me feel inept.
So why is it most important that I keep doing this pose? Because obviously I have tight hips, weak thighs and a gravely neck. Recognizing that I need to work on all those things helps me pinpoint some of my shortcomings, both the physical, and the mental for keeping my cool and being tenacious during my annoyance with the pose.
It is this exact same situation in life. I have heard that a person won’t leave your life until they have finished teaching you something you needed to know. It’s like having to deal with an infuriatingly slow person when you tend to think, talk, and move a mile a minute. Maybe you were glossing over important details before or were lacking patience. Or maybe you get stuck with a co-worker who issues particularly biting passive-aggressive comments. Because you can’t just blow up at this person, perhaps your reaction and response to those comments will teach you how to deal gracefully with other haters in your life.
Going in to these positions that you don’t like also teaches you where your edge is and how to breathe and work through situations that you find uncomfortable. As I talked about in my risk and regrets post, if you’re not falling or stumbling, then you’re not really learning anything and not really pushing the boundaries on making yourself a better person. If you’re always in the comfort zone, you won’t learn the necessary skills to push through when the going gets tough. It’s usually then that growth opportunities or a chance to differentiate yourself come along.
The funny thing about these poses we don’t like is that they often end up being the ones we love the most. Certainly this can happen in life too, with people, places, and jobs. Even if you don’t end up loving them, they probably do end up teaching you valuable lessons you are thankful for later. I know I have become that way with toe stand. It used to be so hard for me and I have now realized it was because I was not listening carefully, I was envisioning falling, and wasn’t focusing on the right spot…all perfect metaphors for what could happen to send your life awry.
An example of how that happened to me about a place is that I had some of the most difficult years of my life in Houston and just when I thought I couldn’t stand to live here one year longer, my future husband, Chief, walked in to the restaurant I was eating at by myself. I instantly knew we would spend the rest of our lives together before we even spoke. Much of what had happened in the years leading up to that taught me what was necessary for a loving relationship that would allow me to blossom. What if I had skedaddled from this place the second I felt like I couldn’t stand it anymore? I’m so glad I hung in for that last uncomfortable moment and gave myself the opportunity to grow and find the best of things out of the worst of things.
How could the hardest parts of your life be helping you identify your weaknesses and teaching you the most valuable lessons?