Hi yogis, welcome to March! I am about a month away from welcoming BV (Baby Vennie) into the world and as you can imagine, my ever-growing belly invites a lot of questions…. primarily, some version of “has your pregnancy been difficult so far?”
It’s hard to answer that question because like most things, it’s not so black and white. However, reflecting on this I did come to one very strong conclusion about my situation: Thank goodness I am having this experience as a more-or-less mature 33-year old practitioner of yoga instead of the anxiety-ridden, control-freak I was in my 20s!
I’ve learned over the years that there is a very big difference between doing something easy and doing something with ease. I wouldn’t say the past 8 months have been easy, but I can honestly say I am now equipped with the life skills required to make this transition into mama-hood bearable, fulfilling, and even pleasant. In other words, I have embraced this experience (the good and the not so good) with ease.
Pregnancy, like marriage, buying a house, switching careers, raising children, or so many of the things we tackle in life, is only about 20% predictable (regardless of the number of books you read on the subject.) Life in general is uncharted territory, and we have the choice to navigate the muddy waters with fear and stress and rigidity like I used to in my younger days, or coast through it with a sense of calm, equanimity, and effortlessness like I do now (well, most of the time.)
Based on this nugget of wisdom, this month’s intention will be to leverage our physical practice on the mat in order to achieve a mental sense of ease off the mat.
Did you know that the whole point of practicing yoga IS to cultivate effortlessness, stability, and calm amidst change? In fact, things like flexibility, physical strength, and the ability to stand on your head are rarely if ever mentioned in the sacred texts that the practice is founded on. The reason we flow through a series of challenging physical postures is not to gain any physical benefits, but to learn to move with ease, achieve steadiness through transitions, and strengthen our connection to ourselves. And these attributes couldn’t be more critical in modern times.
I remember having an interesting conversation with a high-up-there ExxonMobil VP a few years ago about the qualities he looks for in employees. At the top of his list were not IQ, work ethic, or leadership skills…it was resilience. Turns out that resilience, defined as the ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change, is a far better indicator of someone’s potential to succeed than any of the other skills we tend to invest in first. This may not seem intuitive, but it makes perfect sense – even the most talented person will not make it to the top if a small hiccup along the way deters him/her from their goal, right?
Ok, great, so how does one develop and strengthen resilience? By learning to balance effort with ease, approaching challenging and stressful situations with steadiness, and living to learn instead of attaching our egos to a specific end result.
Effortlessness, equanimity, and connection….sounds a lot like the teachings of our ol’ yogi friends, doesn’t it? As you practice this month, forget about contorting your body into a specific shape and instead focus on how you can bring ease into your flow through breath, awareness, and detachment. Over time, you’ll be able to integrate these qualities effortlessly into your day to day and face the 80% of life that’s unpredictable with confidence, resilience, and joy.