Angry on the Mat

Hi. My name is Christine and Utkatasana makes me angry.

You may be wondering what an Utkatasana is. In English, it’s chair pose, a Yoga asana (posture) that has us bending the knees, shins perpendicular to the ground, butt dropped down and the arms straight up in the air. Sound like fun?

Why on earth would someone put us into this pose? Ever?

Let’s approach this with another question: If our experiences on the mat and the [meditation] pillow are considered preparatory for the tests of the outside world, what types of emotions should we feel?

At first glance, it may not seem fathomable that a sequence of stretching, reaching, breath-work and bending could actually prepare us to better handle the situations in our lives. That’s because this isn’t Yoga, at least not in its entirety. Better described, Yoga is discovered within the degree of awareness and intention applied, not just to the performance of asana, but in all that we do.

These elements of intention and awareness not only bridge the chasm separating asana from exercise, but also tap into an inner wellspring of wisdom and insight, heightening the engagement we experience within our own lives. Beyond the movements, touching this power is where we begin the exploration of this depth of perception. For those of us that still believe the poses are the ultimate goal, all it takes is a subtle adjustment — and voila, we find Yoga.

Shifting the focus from body to mind may not always manifest as a delightful scent of jasmine in full bloom. But this is the challenge we accept every time we place a foot upon the mat. This is the practice — developing fortitude, strength, acceptance and forgiveness. It all happens here.

Ultimately, the anger experienced in Utkatasana does not come from the pose. It doesn’t come from the teacher and it isn’t emanating from the space surrounding my body. It comes from inside of me. And solely, it is my decision what to do with it.

This art of living deliberately unfolds as we merge the lessons from the mat and the pillow into our daily lives. Stepping into a space that awakens us to our highest nature we discover — it’s the outside world that provides the most difficult tests. The mat and pillow are merely where we study.

~ Namaste