5.02.2014

Mind & Body Wellness: The Samsara of Yoga

Mind and Body Wellness The Samsara of Yoga by Beth Hemmila
lake tahoe

Yoga class is a great metaphor for examining how you relate to the beginnings, middles, and endings -- the repeating cycle of birth, life, and death (samsara) that inhabit your life in big and small ways.

Beginning
Getting to class might be the most difficult thing a person faces in this whole process because when you go to yoga, you're making a commitment, setting your intentions, and showing up for yourself and others.

Sometimes we're not ready to show up. We dabble in excuses that allow us to give into our fears and resistance about showing up. We find reasons that have to do with time, money, illness, shame, emotional pain, and guilt.

In many ways, getting to yoga class mimics the start of our adulthood, setting our intention for our life's journey and showing up to embark.

Middle
Once you've gotten yourself through the door and laid down your mat, you may think, "It's all downhill from here." Wrong!

The beauty of yoga is that it's just like life, you never know what's coming around the bend. Every day is different. Every day your body and mind are different as well as the conditions of room, the teacher, and your classmates. Every moment is nothing like the last and today's yoga is never going to be like yesterday's.

The middle of yoga symbolizes the power struggle within ourselves. The moment where you learn to accept a sort of emotional and mental defeat and give over to something greater than yourself. You learn trust, acceptance, and equanimity.

Sometimes you are met with physical, mental, or emotional exhaustion. Other times you face all your doubts and fears and learn to let go of your expectations.

The middle is perhaps one of the most vulnerable places because you abandon armor that no longer serves you. You open up and make yourself available to not knowing anything at all. You drop perceptions of yourself and shed lies. You face ugly truths and learn how to let go of unnecessary desires.

In this willful battle, if you let it, yoga will shatter your ego and all its defenses so as to see more. This new tolerance for uncertainty, quiet patience, and willingness to persist even when things don't make sense is symbolic of that middle part of our lives when everything becomes unclear, and you open yourself up to something greater than yourself.

End
After the struggle and your surrender to yoga, a sort of peace washes over you. Not one of smug knowing, but rather just the opposite -- an empty humility. A place where you have let go of everything.

For a moment, you might feel relief or celebration, "It's over!" However, no endings come without grief. So you might experience a sadness for the loss of community, sense of belonging, safety of the room, and care of your teacher.

However, this sadness is stimulated by fear. Perhaps an underlying fear that this same yoga experience will never come around again.

Just like in life, endings take courage and grace. The courage to accept reality and to meet it head on with grace.

Through the whole journey of a yoga class, we can get caught up in this cycle of beginning, middle, and end, labeling it, trying to freeze each moment to get control over it. However, what's more important to keep in mind is that yoga means union -- you are forever tied to the divine. In your beginnings, middles, and endings you are always bound to the divine and inherently connected to everyone else. We always belong to each other through this whole process. Nothing is separate. Nothing is ever apart be it a beginning, middle, or end.

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