This weekend I participated in a 5k race, the first running race I've ever been in. I was particularly nervous, knowing that this race involved many obstacle courses involving climbing, heights and tunnels, as well as...mud. All normally quite anxiety provoking separately; and combined...well not exactly my typical jam on a Saturday afternoon, but with the encouragement of my wonderful partner, his fun brother and the promise of a beer at the finish line I showed up. And showing up is half the battle. I tell my students that in the beginning of yoga class: the hardest part of the class is done- you showed up on your mat.
If showing up and being present is half the battle, then jumping in is the other. Seeing the obstacle in front of us, regardless of how scared, anxious, nervouse we might be, and then diving in head first. Throughout the running course, there were obstacles interspersed. Each obstacle presented a differnet opportunity for me to "jump in", get out of my comfort zone and ultimately confront some anxieties and fears. Often the things we are most scared of can provide us with the greatest potenital to learn and to grow.
This race coincided with another challenge in my life. A few weeks prior i decided to quit my full-time, salaried, business casual desk job to pursue my dream of teaching yoga full-time. I know...crazy right? I saw the obstacle in front of me. My day job was a hinderance to accepting more yoga business. When I was at work I spent a lot of my time working on my yoga business, reading about yoga, health and wellness, and being pre-occupied with the day dream of quitting my job to try and make my passion a reality. I saw the obstacle and I jumped in head first.
The final leg of the 5k was a slippery climb up a steep, large ladder. And at this point in the race both my partner and I were barefoot, having ditched our shoes during a muddy stretch. Once at the top, we were to ride down a slide into a body of water. I did not hesitate this time, and I took the plunge, remiding myself of the other obstacles I had already faced, the other anxieties conquered.
The same can be said of our yoga practice. Half of the battle is showing up on our mats to do the practice, the other is diving in. Not only facing each pose in the present moment, but pausing to evaluate and examine what are our obstacles to practice and poses, and why they are there. In yogic terms this examination is called Svadhyaya or "study of the self" in Sanskirt. Svadyhaha is one of the Niyamas, part of the eight limbs (virtues) of yogic philospihy, as described by Sri Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras. Svadhyaya seeks to discover the true Self, by peeling back the layers of what is not the true self, what is referred to as the ego to reveal the divine within us all.
It starts by jumping in. Jump into the mud and see what beauty awaits you.