There are three situations that really test my patience – Walmart, meetings and long drives with my two boys.
Patience is “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset.”
Yoga has definitely made me more patient. This isn’t to say that I don’t get annoyed by long-winded meeting talk. Or grit my teeth when from the back seat I hear “Are we there yet …?” for the 20th time.
But I have improved over the years. So what is it that has changed?
I think one thing that yoga has taught me is to be in the moment. During my yoga practice, I don’t feel pressured to be doing something else. I allow myself the time to stretch and flex, to breathe and heal. I like to think that I have brought a bit of this quality into my life. That I give my mind a little more space to think. That I am able to choose my responses more often, instead of simply reacting to things.
When you do yoga, you have to be there and be willing to put in the work. You simply can’t do many of the poses without focus (I have fallen out of tree pose a time or twelve!)
Also by putting aside time for yoga, you are telling yourself that it’s ok to slow down and let things unfold. You are training patience.
“Patience is not passive, on the contrary, it is active, it is concentrated strength.” ~Edward Bulwer Lytton
Yoga can also challenge your patience. Like when you really want to be able to do a certain pose but it seems like a far off impossibility. Or you just don’t want to hold that posture any longer – “come on, hasn’t it been 5 breaths already?!”
The feeling of impatience creates a bit of anxiety. Patience, however, is powerful. It gives you the power to reflect and choose.
Maybe it is not that important to “get the pose” right now.
How can you train patience?
Patience is a hard quality to cultivate. We want things now. But it is something that you can cultivate through practice. And the yoga mat is a great place to start. In yoga you can practice patience towards your own body and mind.
This quote below made me laugh! But I think it makes a good point and is very relevant to yoga practice:
The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing it.~Arnold H. Glasow
Makes sense, right? If you want to increase your flexibility, you have to do it slowly, with respect and care for you body. If you ask your body to change faster than it can, it will suffer. You will get sick or injured.
Patience creates a feeling of centeredness. It is like reminding yourself that where you are is ok.
Here are some tips for cultivating patience on your mat:
- When moving from one posture to another, remember that the transitions are as important as the poses themselves. Stay connected with your body and breath during transitions.
- When in the postures, try not to fidget. Adjust where necessary but then settle in.
- Become aware of where you set your gaze, your drishti. Keep it steady and deliberate.
- Focus on your breath and increase the length of inhales and exhales. Your mind will follow your breath and the steadier the breath, the steadier the mind.
- Pick a pose that you find frustrating. Find your edge in the pose. Set an intention of being ok with where you are. Just for the moment, let go of expectations of what it should look like or what you want it to look like.
Next time I hear the refrain “Are we there yet ..?” I will probably still sigh and roll my eyes. But I might also smile; “Almost grasshopper. Enjoy the journey.”
How is your patience these days? Are you willing to wait for something that is important? How do you react when yoga or life just gets annoying?
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Photo courtesy of blinking idiot