Living Your Yoga: Beyond the Mat: “Stretched to the Limit”

Have you ever had one of those weeks where things just seem to stack up against you, like nothing goes your way and the more you try, the less things seem to improve. You feel stretched to the limit with nowhere to turn. Believe me, we’ve all been there at one time or another.

I recently had one of those weeks myself, when my car (in the middle of winter here) began to leak antifreeze and overheat. I borrowed a vehicle from my brother until I could get my car repaired and while I had his car, backed it into another woman’s car in a dark parking lot (yeah, her car was black –didn’t even see it).

This is okay, I think, I have insurance, but as it turns out, my insurance says they won’t cover the accident because I was driving someone else’s car. I will have to claim the accident on my brother’s insurance (something I’m not willing to do).

So we’re off to get estimates for the damage (to both cars) and I find out that my fifteen-year-old car has a leaking water pump. With 212,000 miles on it, I decide the repair is too costly for such an old car with a limited lifespan, to say the least. I will just have to get something newer to drive. I start looking online for a possible replacement, but without knowing the cost of the repairs on the other two cars, I can’t even think about buying a new car. Suddenly, I feel stuck. One part of me wants to just push through the situation, to make everything right, but I can’t. I just can’t do it.

ns-pigeon-down-2I like to compare these challenging times to the yoga posture, pigeon pose – let’s take that idea a step further, sleeping pigeon pose (the forward fold version). If you have a yoga instructor like mine, she’ll want keep you there deep in pigeon, folded for two full minutes which seems like an eternity with your chest and shoulders shaking as they hover just above your knee, your hip on fire, fighting to get free from the bind.

And if you’re REALLY lucky while you are there, with your hip flexor, hamstring, knee and gluts stretched to the limit, she will remind you, that when things get tough, force will never work. If we push or force the posture we will wind up hurting ourselves. The only real way through the pain is to release and allow. We can even back off a little if we need to. When we can take a deep breath and let go, even just a little, we make room or space for something new. We let go of the things that are binding us and we find a tiny bit more freedom.

At the very least, when we can let go, surrender to the sensations and not judge them (or ourselves) one way or another, we can relax enough to open our eyes and see that there is light at the end of the tunnel. We remember that we have been here before (or someplace similar) and we came out of the situation with renewed ability to handle stress without breaking.

I don’t know why we experience times like this in our life, but what I do know is that although they can seem pretty overwhelming, they do pass and life eventually returns to something like normal. What we can do to help is examine our judgments about our circumstance, release our expectations and allow the Universe to help us solve our troubles. Deep breathing can help too.

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