Recently I was giving a private yoga session to a gentleman via video call. During the session I noticed that he was pushing his stretch further than what his body could reasonably accommodate. I gently reminded him not to force a stretch. He made a joking reference to the well known motto; "No Pain, No Gain." I told him that my yogic philosophy does not include that belief. Then he asked me, "How can I make progress if I don't push myself?" This was my reply;
You don't push. You hold. When you feel that you have met your edge, don't push beyond it, but instead hold it a little longer and breathe. When you are in a pose and you start to feel like you can't hold it one more moment, take two more breaths before exiting the pose. In this way you can honor your limits even as you gently expand them.
And this technique is not limited to the practice of yoga. You can use this in many aspects of life whenever you meet your edge. Whether it is the edge of your patience, or the edge of your compassion, or the edge of your strength, take two more breaths. Hold and breathe. When you want to give up, hold and breathe. When you are ready to abandon hope, hold and breathe. Just two more breaths. This is the way to make gentle progress. Gentle progress creates lasting change because you are slowly increasing your capacity to stay in the discomfort and by doing so you are challenging your own limiting beliefs.
The next time you find yourself at your limit, in a yoga pose or any other aspect of life, take two more breaths. Hold and breathe, and picture me cheering you on and celebrating your expansion.
Love and Light,