pagoda posture, a photo by Montauk Beach on Flickr.
The other day, I did full splits in yoga class. My outfit wasn't as snazzy as the woman's in the picture above and I didn't have the benefit of a pagoda to pose on but....I felt like that picture. Yes. Yoga is all kinds of awesome.
However, this particular brand of awesome came as a complete surprise. It wasn't like I thought I'd never do full splits. The idea simply never occurred to me. In hindsight, however, I've been preparing for them for over six months - I just didn't realize they were right around the corner.
I've been doing lots of deep stretches for quite a while. These are the same poses that, when I first started yoga, made my mental demons rage. I don't know if this happens to everyone, but the intense physical discomfort seemed to trigger some sort of fight or flight response in me. It took everything in my power to stay on my mat and in the poses. Often every part of me wanted to quit except a brave voice inside that said "you can do this." I don't know where that voice came from, because in the past it always tried to get me to go eat some ice cream and run away from scary things. But every time I showed up on my mat, the brave voice got a little braver and the crowd of scared voices seemed to thin.
Can I tell you a secret? The poses still feel really uncomfortable, but I have a smile on my face while I do them. I've talked about thresholds before. But I love how yoga pushes not only my physical boundaries, but my emotional and mental ones, too. It allows me to "stretch" in all areas of my life. It reminds me of how life works, how you don't even realize you're setting yourself up for a breakthrough, building the stamina or insight or sheer strength to push forward towards the next Big Thing. Until you've done it.
Then you find the next threshold.
That's the most important thing I've learned in all of this: there are always new ways to grow and learn and love the world. The minute you say "I can't go any further," you can't. But when you say, "this is difficult and confusing and I'm not going to run away," you will surprise yourself at how far you can grow.
You'll be doing something you never even thought was possible, caught up in all kinds of awesome.