108: Skill in Action

yoga poses learningAs we move through our asana practice today I encourage the students to be skillful in their movements. Not to push too hard or struggle, to find alignment in their poses and alignment in the way they think and breathe, and to take care moving from one pose to the next. These elements are skillful means to navigate themselves successfully and serenely through their class. The Bhagavad Gita defines yoga as being skill in action, combining certain movements in our body to foster peace in our minds and hearts.

Some poses we feel very adept at, very smooth and skilled, other poses we lose ourselves in a sea of doubt, fear or mistrust in ourselves. We can become agitated in some poses or peaceful in some poses, this is also how we can play our life out off the mat also. Some situations are smooth, silky like honey, some situations seem a little crunchy, uncomfortable and burnt. And isn’t life grand when it’s all sweet roses, but how are we when the music fades?

Let me give you a scenario to see how you respond. You are at the airport and all the planes have been cancelled and there is chaos everywhere, along with queues, panic, no information and screaming children. People are pushing and the room is getting more and more aggressive. There is shouting and agitation. You can feel the heat rise as you are late for something very important. Now you are hungry and have to go to the bathroom and your child is crying as well. After an hour when you finally get to the front of the queue what are you thinking? What comes out of you as you turn to the person behind the desk? What do you say or do?

Skill in action would suggest that you look the person behind the counter in the eyes and say ‘you must be very tired, this must have been a difficult day for you’. Skill in action asks that we pause before we react and we don’t look away from the difficult. Skill in action asks that you put your story aside and feel compassion towards those that may also be suffering. This is how we can change the energy in the room in one flash.

Practice for today: If you find yourself in a crunchy situation today, pause….. and think, how can I practice skill in action today? How can I rise above myself, my story, and cultivate kindness? What is the one thing I can do or say right now to ease this situation for others and ultimately myself.

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