Remember bumpy roads often lead to beautiful destinations…
I am currently riding not the best bike, and any bump I hit on the road is incredibly uncomfortable. Living in London, I am faced with cobbled streets, and my whole body shudders as I bounce along, trying to stay on my bike. Potholes, bad paving, or other uneven surfaces are sometimes unavoidable. I realised that to make this experience of riding over them more bearable, the best choice I had was to loosen up my body and grip and lessen my resistance, physically and mentally. There’s a balance I have to strike, remain alert and focussed whilst approaching the terrain with ease and acceptance.
This made me think how in life, when we hit some obstacles and bumps if we soften our approach to them, it usually leads to a quicker, more harmonious resolve. We all know how difficult it is to face rigid, stubborn, hasty or fiery people when trying to find a sensible solution. Whether it’s hardness and tension in the body and mind when riding on a bumpy road or hardness and tension when dealing with the bumps of life, both experiences are rather unpleasant.
So here is some encouragement to soften into the hard to navigate moments, and ride WITH the bumps, not AGAINST them. Maybe that means slowing down your breath, finding ways to relax your body, and using your best methods for calming the mind. To do such, you could do any number of things such as:
- Taking a walk
- Seeking out nature
- Having a bath
- Listening to relaxing music
- Having a massage
- Talking things through with a friend
- Practising yoga
- Leading from the heart with love not fear
- Journaling the experience that is troubling you.
“Life is a bumpy road, eventually you just have to learn how to ride it.” anon
Incorporating this teaching into your yoga practice
- Keep dropping back into slow, steady breaths, see how long you can remain focussed on the breath as you move and flow through your practice – keeping body and breath in harmony.
- Find areas of the body to relax when one part of the body has to be strongly engaged, i.e. no tension needs to be in the face, release the jaw and any frowning – smiling helps.
- Bring a sense of full body ‘ease’ into the postures, mentally and physically, so even if you are being challenged, see if you can soften into the pose. Keep noting your approach; is it one of hardness or softness?
- When you find yourself struggling and when a posture or movement is out of your comfort zone or ability can you ease your ‘grip’ or ‘grasping’ – let go of that need to get it ‘right’. Remember, it’s okay to come out of a posture, find your zen and then come back into it.
- Another approach is to go with the sensations, not resist them, feel the tiredness that you are experiencing in the arms or legs, feel the muscles stretching, feel the wobble as you try to balance – let yourself fall if you’re falling.
- Find some buoyancy, create some suspension in your body, work with suppleness and flexibility.
- Last but not least, slow down, take your time and calmly approach the practice.