by Mona Keddy
Yoga is a process of self-understanding and of connection to our essence. This essence is extraordinary: peaceful, full of expansive joy, sparkling with light and present without needing anything from us. The process, however, of touching that part of ourselves can involve seeing other parts, covering our essence, that we would prefer to avoid.
One of the lessons of my yoga practice has been understanding and naming fear. I am afraid, more often than I would have acknowledged before I started yoga. Certain poses and moments on my mat bring up fear that is uncomfortable and provokes reaction. “This is a good time to go to the bathroom” or “I will just watch others do this pose” are some of the ways my fear speaks. Our flight or flight response to fear can cause us to avoid (to flee), to overly engage (to fight), to become passive (to faint) or to be paralyzed (to freeze). Fear interferes with freedom. Fear holds us back. Freedom ultimately involves a letting go. We let go of that which is interfering with our ability to be spacious. We discharge held energy. To do this often involves a certain amount of courage. The spiritual warrior is said to leap empty-handed into the void.
In our yoga practice, we do things we didn’t think were possible. The time on our mat gives us insight to our habitual response to fear. We can work carefully and compassionately with ourselves in these moments. We “parent” our fear response by being war
m, loving, compassionate, protective and also encouraging. We build the strength and courage to take the leap, to be free. We learn to hold fear lightly in one hand and courage more strongly in the other. Fear, once named and acknowledged, begins to diminish. Fear is lessened by correct and appropriate action. With the action, the leap, we experience the reward of a freedom of being that is expansive and bright.
What poses are you afraid of? Which ones cause you to check out, metaphorically? How do you work with yourself in those moments? After, are you more able to feel free and expansive?