When I first got into yoga, I did it for stress relief and anger management. It didn’t work out, at least not at first. I didn’t get how one can help the other right away. I thought I was magically going to change my attitude and not be so quick to lose my temper. Yoga did not help me to cool my temper and I still get angry pretty quickly in some cases. The difference is how I deal with being in that negative emotion.
When we feel horrible emotionally - sadness, anger, heartbreak, we want to be rid of that feeling ASAP because it sucks. And it seems like the harder we try to get rid of it, the longer it sticks around and the more frustrated we get. From denial to using substances to numb ourselves, the feeling is still there and needs to be dealt with.
In yoga, we practice asana and holding poses, and sometimes it can get a little uncomfortable. Our muscles start to shake, we feel the burn, we want to get out of it. Instead of running out of the room, we stay and breathe through it. We stay because we know the end result will make us stronger, and we’re only in the pose for a few breaths anyway right? None of this is permanent. Why is it easier to stay in the discomfort when we’re physically pushing ourselves to our edge, but in other circumstances when it comes to our mental and emotional well being, we seek the quick fix and escape?
This is a practice we can take off the mat and I didn’t really “get this” until I was introduced to Baptiste Yoga and it’s teachings through Asana, Meditation, and Inquiry. I’m not saying you can’t come to these conclusions through other yoga practices, it just so happens this is the path that worked out for me. It’s here I learned and got a better understanding about Sthira Sukha.
The idea behind Sthira Sukha is finding a balance between being firm, solid, grounded but also at ease, soft, and gentle and that the way to perfect a yoga pose is finding that perfect balance of Sthira Sukha where you’re working but you’re also at ease - easier said than done. If I’m in a Twisting Crescent Lunge, I’m gripping hard, every muscle is shaking, I’m breathing heavy, and there’s a good chance that I’m not blinking. There’s not much softness going on but it’s possible, just by slowing down my breathing, maybe softening my face so I’m not staring through the wall, drop my back knee, OPTIONS!
I try to practice this off the mat but some situations are harder to deal with than others like when I encounter assholes , asshole-ish behavior, or my upstairs neighbors are getting too noisy. I have a tendency to pop-off and feel like shit afterward. I scream, yell, slam things as a way to release that tension and anger that suddenly attacked me. It never works. I know that if I just pause, take a breath before moving on, it would help me to think clearer and not reach for the quick exit of my feelings. Sometimes you just gotta ride things out, like a cold or virus. I once read that the goddess Kali makes sure that young ones get the mumps and measles in order for them to become stronger to fight off other germs when they’re older (I guess this was before they learned about vaccinations).
How do you handle discomfort? Do you avoid it at all costs? Or do you use it as a learning lesson to better prepare you for other more difficult situations?