I was watching Mr Bean the other night with my son Luke. Mr Bean climbs to the top of a very tall diving tower and then loses his nerve. It’s so funny to watch him clinging to the ground and squirming around as he does whatever he can to avoid going over the edge. At this point I think it’s fair to say he’s immobilised by fear and doubt.
Perhaps, if we could have convinced him to do a backbend, he may have been able to gather himself together and swan dive off the edge with aplomb.
Fear and doubt can be immobilising, but as we know from doing backbends (for example), the fear of the upcoming pose is often worse than the reality. The thought of having to do a backbend can be much heavier than the actual experience.
It’s our mind that gets in the way.
As Mr Iyengar says:
“You cannot hope to experience inner peace or freedom without understanding the workings of your mind and of human consciousness in general. All behaviour, both constructive and destructive, is dependent on our thoughts. By understanding how our thinking works, we discover nothing less than the very secrets of human psychology. With this right perception and understanding of our minds, the door opens to our liberation, as we go through the veil of illusion into the bright day of clarity and wisdom. The study of mind and consciousness, therefore, lies at the heart of yoga.” BKS Iyengar, Light On Life p.107
A Practical Tool
Yoga is a practical tool to help us meet the challenges of everyday life. Cultivating a practice helps us begin to understand how our own mind works and overcome our patterns and tendencies. It helps to remember these tendencies are simply human responses to life that everyone shares.
Tapas can help us get to a place where “old patterns are not repeated; new things truly can happen, and real changes can in fact take place”.
Mr Iyengar translates ‘tapas’ as sustained courageous practice – to get “more of what I genuinely desire and less of what I don’t”.
As he says, “the trick is to recognise which is which and then act on it. The paradox arises in that to train ourselves to achieve this, we have to start by doing a fair bit of what we don’t want to do, and rather less of what we think we do.”
As in getting up every morning and doing some practice, rather than sleeping in!
Beginning a yoga practice develops our understanding and discovery of ourselves and of human psychology in general. What stops us, what gets in our way, what habits of mind do we have, what are our patterns? And slowly, if we stick with it, we develop the tools to move ourselves along and come into our full flowering.
Facebook Practice Group
At The Yoga Nook we want to support you in not only coming to classes, but also in establishing your own home practice. Any practice you can do at home will support your work in the classes.
Over the 16 years The Yoga Nook has been operating (thanks for your support!) I have tried many ways to encourage people to practice. Led practices, personal practice intensives and retreats have all helped, but as much as I’m loathe to mention Facebook, the practice group we’ve established there has been the most successful in terms of keeping people practising long enough for them to start seeing the results. Once things become easier to do, enthusiasm and excitement for the practice grows. It can be like a plane taking off – it takes a lot of energy at the start but once you’re airborne you can cruise along and enjoy the view, and when you hit turbulence you’ll have some tools to cope with it.
The Yoga Nook Practice Group is one year old this Sunday April 8 and we’re celebrating by starting a new 15 minutes a day for 30 days practice challenge. Warning – this can be very addictive and some people have kept going all year! They’re ready and waiting to support newcomers to the group. Just look for the The Yoga Nook Practice Group on Facebook and apply to join. It’s completely free and we’ll be posting practice suggestions, tips and encouragements over the 30 days.
So dive in – support yourself to go for more of what you really want!