A few days ago, I took a yoga class that felt like the Wild West of yoga. Folks were doing random headstands and handstands, crow poses and jump backs.
A yoga friend of mine who was taking the class with me said afterwards, “Yeah, I used to like to practice like that but now I’m too old and lazy.” And we had a good laugh.
The class made me think of a summer past when we were spending time with our family in Massachusetts. My kids and their cousins were having so much fun jumping off a dock into the lake.
Two of the kids – Sadie included – were super tentative, checking out the scene, assessing, planning, and finally jumping while holding hands.
The other three ran pell-mell down the dock at top speed and launched themselves into the water with barely a glance.
I remember applauding Sadie for her courage when she jumped off the dock she said,
“I was always going to jump. I’m brave but not foolish.”
In that class I took, I felt like Sadie and her cousin, being super cautious before I jumped and everyone else was acting like the other three kids, launching themselves from the dock without looking.
But actually everyone in both of these scenarios – the kids at the lake and the yogis in that class – were acting courageously.
None of the kids jumping off of the dock were really being foolish at all (despite Sadie’s assessment.)
And certainly no one in that yoga class I took was being lazy (despite my friend’s self-deprecating comment.)
It’s just that some folks – like my friend and I – needed to set up everything precisely, to assess all of the angles and possibilities and to do a lot of looking before leaping.
Other folks, needed to just get in there and do it.
The brilliant thing is that yoga gives us both approaches to practice.
We get to decide what we need in the moment and what will help us find some harmony and balance.
There’s great learning opportunities when we push outside of our comfort zones.
My tendency is to analyze and plan and triple check before I leap but I also have lots of ah-ha moments in classes where the teacher says, “Don’t worry so much. Just jump and see what happens!”
On the opposite side, many of the just do it folks could find some benefit to slowing down and assessing their hand positions and other finer points of alignment before launching.
As always, yoga works best when it show us our tendencies and gives us a chance to decide if those tendencies – attractions and aversions – are serving us best.
Any time we use the practice to look closely at ourselves, we are acting courageously.
So here’s to courage in all of it’s forms and to looking before we leap… Or not!