Yoga Lesson for the Day: Faith


Today my faith in myself was tested. So much so, it led to me doing a somersault in the middle of yoga class. I kid you not.

Generally, I’m okay with my limitations. I recognize that there are certain poses that my body cannot execute just yet or cannot do anymore. I accept this and do my best.

Today, however, I was confronted not by the limitations of my body, but by those of mind.

I love handstands. I feel like a warrior upside down, and for a few moments, I’m able to see the world in a different light. I am attached to the wall, though. My warrior bliss is consistently interrupted as I wiggle and jiggle my toes to and from the wall. So then, what happens when said wall gets taken away? Well, my friends, that’s when shit gets real.

Which brings me back to faith and somersaults in the middle of yoga class. Instructor took away my safety net. Had us free balling it in the middle of our mats. No wiggle. No jiggle. And for me, no handstand.

Faith. It’s a funny thing. You’ve gotta balance reality (human beings, outside of Hollywood and the circus, people, cannot fly) with self-limiting thoughts and behaviors (“You’ll never be good enough to be a published author so why even try!”). Stepping off a four-story building and having faith that you won’t end in a splat will not yield the sort of faith-related transformation that yoga demands of us. Tightening the muscles in the quadriceps and abdominals, straightening the legs, kicking them into the air and knowing that I am strong enough to hold it-the fear, my legs, doubt, my aching abdominal muscles- I can hold all of it. That’s the sort of faith yoga asks for.

There’s also a second side to faith, and this is often the lesson I get in meditation: in order to get where we’re going, sometimes we need to let go of the reins. A religious person might say, “let go and let God.” I’m not at all religious, but surrender is a lesson that continually pops up for me. We want to control. We want to fashion and create. Which can be good. Faith without action is asking the Universe to make me a doctor even though I refuse to take Biology. But we also become overly attached to outcomes. For instance, during sex. Sometimes we get so caught up in the attainment of orgasm that we not only fail to orgasm, we fail to connect with our partners, with our bodies, and with the experience.

Due to this, I got a very unpleasant reality check today. During yoga, not during sex. Not only did I feel like I couldn’t do a handstand without the wall, I tried to muscle and control it into existence to cover up my lack of faith.

Apparently, I’m all bravado and self-esteem when my conscious self is talking, but the moment I hit the mat, my underlying insecurities are brought to light. The cants and wonts and shouldnts begin to take over. Yoga is an exquisite mind exercise. It asks that you recognize fear and shortcomings but do not identify with them. It’s meditation. On the mat. It asks us to merely watch as all those sequined and feathered doubts go parading by.

And you better believe that parade will happen. There’s no way around it. There are days when our legs just will not cooperate. There are days in which we will be less bendy, highly agitated or unfocused. This is human nature. We have good days and we have bad days. Having faith simply means that no matter what state we were in the moment before, the one we’re currently in is the one where we should be. And our previous moment doesn’t need us holding onto it for dear life. It needs room to breathe, to just be, to come and go.

There will come a day when my handstand will be perfect enough. Today it wasn’t because I needed to learn something about myself. Sometimes, we have to embrace ourselves and just listen to what the Universe is trying to whisper in our controlling, compulsive ears. Else we end up in a perpetual somersault through life. And really, who’s got time for all that. 😉

And on that note, I leave you with little Georgie, who frickin ‘knows what’s up.


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