I’ve been so excited in Bikram yoga class lately because I have finally been able to achieve postures that were out of my reach for the last two years. However as Ambiya (the instructor) walked around the room during a recent class, she looked at me in fixed firm pose and asked the question, “Is that working for you?”
There are some postures that I haven’t been able to achieve because of my body size and shape and others that I have not reached because I am still building the strength and flexibility. In those cases, I usually opt for a modified version that exerts the same amount of energy (read: burns the same amount of calories). She saw me struggle to get into a modified fixed firm and calmly inquired, “Is that working for you?”
The truth was that although I worked hard to get into the position, I was never comfortable in it. As a matter of fact, it was painful and I struggled to maintain my balance, tortuously counting the seconds until it was time for the next position.
Then, Ambiya reminded me that yoga is a practice built through a process. “It takes strength to stop where you are. Stay where you are. You’re strong, so you push yourself through the pain. I want you to go back a step. Rest there until you master this step.” Rest would bring me closer to the position that I ultimately wanted to reach.
As a woman with personal goals and dreams, I’m constantly on the move- taking calculated steps, measuring my progress, and strategizing the way forward. In other words, I stay grinding! It’s easy to get caught up on the treadmill of pushing ourselves into uncomfortable spaces and because we are strong, we endure the pain for the sake of achievement.
A few Sundays ago, I woke up with a two-page to-do list facing me and I almost decided to forego church. After my morning devotional time, I got dressed, remembering that God is able to “redeem the time” and praying that the sermon would empower me to keep moving forward. So, I headed to church with my to-do list in tow. Wouldn’t you know it? The sermon was about rest! The minister made 3 points that stuck with me:
- What you need will show up in your rest.
- When you settle down, what you need can find you.
- It takes faith to be still.
I couldn’t help but hear Ambiya’s voice ringing in my ear, “It takes strength to stop.” I think I finally get it. Although I still have goals to work towards, I accept and respect where I am in the process.
I’m keeping my eyes on the full expression of my desired position, but for now, I have given myself permission to rest in the process.
It is working for me.