There are many excuses we can make not to do yoga. The most common one I hear is ‘I’m not flexible enough’. This is similar to saying ‘I’m too dirty to take a bath’ or ‘I’m too hungry to eat or too tired to sleep’. The obstacle (the excuse/the problem) is also the answer, the way through. In Indian mythology the elephant-headed boy Ganesha is the symbol of these two states, both the obstacle and also the way through the obstacle. He is the road block as he protects his mother but also the path as we must go around to enter the castle. As we practice yoga we are presented with many obstacles on the path. We may find that we are tired, ill, feel lazy or tight. We may not want to practice or may feel uninspired. Patanjali lists the hurdles we must overcome on the way to our goal. They are;
- Vyadhi – illness
- Samsaya – doubt
- Pramada – haste or impatience
- Alasya – resignation or Styana Tamas – fatigue
- Avirati – distraction
- Bhrantidarsana – ignorance or arrogance
- Alabdhumikatva – the inability to take a new step
- Anavasthitatvani – loss of confidence.
Anytime we encounter a hurdle such as the above it is like we are being poked by the tusk of Ganesha. We are being prompted with the question, ‘How much do you really want this thing?’ Each of the obstacles is a test of our determination, perseverance and willingness. Sometimes we overcome one hurdle only to be presented with another. Sometimes we invent our own obstacles. However they are presented to us they can all be seen as a gift. A gentle nudging to find a new way around or through to your goal like water sweeping around a rock as it flows down a river.
Practice for this week : What is it that you are trying to accomplish in your yoga practice, in your life? What obstacles are in your path? Are they real obstacles or ones that you have erected yourself? What is it that is really standing in your way of becoming the best version of yourself? List the impediments on your path and try to find a way through or round them.
Yoga pose to practice overcoming obstacles: The yin pose dragon splits ( hanumanasana) is a good test of building our resolve and finding a way to go through whatever is in your way. Hanuman was the little monkey who had to overcome self doubt so he could jump between Lanka and India in a single bound. This helps you to learn to stand in your own fire and help you remember who you really are without the obstacles. Picture credit yoga journal Link to Yin Yoga about the dragons