“Yoga practice is like an obstacle race;
Many obstructions are purposefully put on the way for us to pass through.
They are there to make us understand and express our own capacities.
We all have that strength, but we don’t seem to know it.
We seem to need to be challenged and tested in order to understand our own capacities.”
– Swami Satchidananda
Yoga practice isn’t just limited to the time we spend on the mat or in a class.
If you’re serious about yoga it isn’t enough to only practice the poses or you won’t gain the full benefits and gifts this ancient way of life has to offer.
You’ve got to take your practice beyond poses and deepen your understanding of what yoga is.
This will, in turn, help you understand yourself better.
The entire goal of Yoga is to unite the body with the mind, the lower self with the higher self, and ultimately our individual self with our cosmic self.
This is heavy stuff and it requires we practice self-awareness (Svadhyaya), self-discipline (Tapas), and surrender (Ishvara Pranidhana).
The principle of Tapas is about cranking up the heat to increase the discomfort.
It’s in the discomfort, pain, and challenge that we can come to know and express our own capacities.
What makes you uncomfortable?
Can you consciously choose to run towards that experience?
Is it making eye contact with a stranger?
Saying ‘no’ when someone asks you to do something you’re not inspired to do?
Is it putting yourself and your work out there?
Making that call to pitch yourself or your work or product?
Is it setting boundaries with those who don’t respect them?
Whatever makes you feel uncomfortable practice Tapas by embracing it.
You can start small – maybe try embracing the uncomfortable emotions you don’t want to feel or are scared to experience.
Are you angry?
Give it a label and speak it into existence.
Are you ashamed?
Whatever the frequency of your emotion stop, pause, be still, and connect with it.
There’s something there to learn from it.
Embrace the uncomfortable emotions and free your inner power and vision.
A brain imaging study by psychologists out of UCLA revealed that verbalizing, naming, and labeling our emotions makes the pain, anger, and sadness less intense. (1)
Becoming mindful of our feeling states, no matter what they are, can help to decrease activity in the amygdala, your brain’s fear center.
When your brain’s fear center becomes quieter you become more powerful.
You can hear more internally and see more through your inner vision.
You come to know and express your capabilities more and more.
This is the obstacle race of true yoga practice.
This is what Swami Satchidananda was talking about.
So run towards your obstacle race and know that you already have what it takes to win it.
Name the feeling.
Embrace the pain.
Seek the challenge.
And you will come to know yourself more.