The Enlightening Mat: Letting Go of What's Easy

easy and hard

When I first started practicing Bikram yoga, I was living in the delusion that at some point the process would become easy. I would be one of those amazingly flexible people who could smile and do the splits standing on one leg without breaking a sweat.

Three years later and every Bikram posture is still challenging for me. Some teachers say, "If this posture is easy for you, then you're either doing it wrong or not working hard enough." I use to subtlety ignore this mantra and proceed as usual, but the other day I noticed the logic of this idea for every time you begin to master a tiny aspect of a pose you have grown your learning edge -- the place where you stretch a little farther to the new you.

For instance, maybe you couldn't bend over and touch your toes three months ago; however, today you can, so now you're moving your learning edge to a new place where you bend over and try to wrap your arms around the back of your calves. When you have perfected this new step, then you're trying to straighten your legs, and so on. The learning edge is constantly changing, and it's never easy because you're always taking a pose one step further. You are continually uncovering new territory where you find resistance in your body -- deep scar tissue from physical or emotional trauma -- and learning to gently unravel it into something new. No two days of Bikram yoga are the same because every day your body has changed into something completely different.

More importantly, whether you do yoga or not, seeing that every day your life and body are something new is awakening to understanding that everything changes in every moment and finding what's easy isn't the point.

I'm a creature of comfort and seeking out what's easy may be built into my DNA. I'm always looking for the most efficient path for how to complete a task or learn a new method. However, this concept of easy is an illusion. Life is not static, and what may appear easy could actually be a lot more difficult over time.

For example, staying in a stressful, unsatisfying job, relationship, lifestyle, etc. may feel easy, but what will your emotional and physical health be like in five years? Because of sticking to what's easy, will you have gained weight, damaged internal organs from emotional stress, or developed high blood pressure?

Only wanting what's easy is a way to stunt our own growth and cling to the comforting illusion that nothing is changing. However, everything changes in every moment, and as I wake up to the understanding that the universe is actually a glittering mass of movement and constant alteration, what feels easier is letting go of wanting what's easy and stretching my learning edge a little bit farther every day.

The Enlightening Mat is a blog series exploring moments of awareness that come to Beth Hemmila while practicing Bikram Yoga.

To shop for yoga charms that celebrate the different poses click here to view this blog post Sterling Silver Charms for Bikram Yoga Postures.  


  1. Wonderful post! I also want to repeat what's easy and comfortable - I need to remember to push that "learning edge" - thanks!

    1. Glad this post spoke to you and your life! Thanks so much for connecting through this idea :)

  2. Great post Beth, and timely for me! I just bought 3 stickers (one for me, one for each of my daughters) last week that say "Life begins at the end of your comfort zone." ~ Neale Donald Walsch


    1. What a great quote! I love that Kim. Thanks so much for sharing it. I'm definitely going to try to integrate that into my life :)


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