On the Cheerfulness of Fortitude


A few days ago, I cobbled together a list of all the yoga poses that I wanted to learn and which had routinely defeated me. There were clear patterns to the poses I found difficult. They tended to be: heart openers, hip openers, arm balances, backbends, inversions—and combinations of any of the above. Poses, in other words, that involve large amounts of trust, surrender and vulnerability.

This morning, I lugged my trusty purple Jade Yoga mat to a corner of one of the studio’s rooms and, with the kind of grim determination more appropriate to a boot camp, set about doing the poses one by one.

Obviously, I didn’t get to do them all, and the ones I actually did I did rather badly, but there was still the satisfaction one gets from accomplishing a difficult task (in this particular case, a series of difficult tasks).

And it hit me all over again while I lay in Savasana that I only willingly put myself through this much effort for the sake of yoga. In no other area of life do I draw up a list of the things that routinely defeat me for the sole purpose of systematically undertaking them one by one. In all other instances, it would be a sure-fire recipe for anger and frustration. In yoga, however, I just close my eyes and breathe through failure after failure.

I have yet to figure out how to export this attitude of cheerful fortitude from the hours I spend on the mat to all the hours I spend off the mat. This would probably be Task No. 1 in the list of things off the mat that routinely defeat me.

Sigh.

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