I have practiced yoga for over 12 years now. I love it for many reasons, not the least of which is that it often teaches valuable lessons for life off the mat. In yoga, you practice the same postures over and over again. If you are not focused on the present, the NOW, you run two risks. You can either go on autopilot and not reap the benefits of the posture or, if you are trying to balance, you fall over. Not the end of the world, but also not the point of the practice.
Recently, one of my teachers has been advising the yogis in her class not to hover above the pose, encouraging us to go to the edge of our practice. By this she means to challenge our muscles and our breath to go to that place that is perhaps a little uncomfortable, to find the balance between effort and ease in order to come to the fullest expression of the posture.
What an apt metaphor for our lives. Sometimes we hover in our lives. We find ourselves in ruts. We fear pushing ourselves because it can be uncomfortable. We settle for acceptable because we are not sure if we can be exceptional. Some of us fear that if we are exceptional this time we will always have to live up to that ideal.
Yoga has taught me that a little struggle is good. It has taught me that I would rather fall flat on my face (or butt) because I am striving for something, than fall because I am tuned out. Every time I practice, the edge is a different place. Sometimes, I feel victorious; sometimes, I am amazed I even made it through the class. Either way, I am always happy that I showed up and gave it the best I could that day.
Life is the same way. Sometimes it is beautiful, sometimes just getting through the day is an effort. If we trust ourselves to really show up in our lives, to shine a little brighter, to find our edge, we become the fullest expression of ourselves.