Today, I could not get my balance in tree pose on my left leg. It’s usually an easy balance pose for me.
In my pre-yoga workout, I struggled to get more range of motion in my left ankle in my mobility exercises.
For a moment I considered that my struggle in tree pose was related to the left ankle stiffness I experienced earlier in the morning.
Or maybe it was caused by something else.
Sometimes, there’s no rhyme or reason to why the body can do something one day and not the next, or even falter where it stood only an hour earlier.
Perhaps it was related to the left ankle, or perhaps they were both effects of the same cause. The cause could be a physical issue or it could be an emotion stuck in my subconscious. It doesn’t really matter — I don’t need a story around it.
It’s enough to observe what’s happening, and from there to notice where the mind wants to go.
As my teacher Justin used to say, the physical pose is where the yoga starts.
The Mind’s Escape Place
I noticed that my mind wanted to go to the “should” place.
I should be stronger in my balance. I should be seeing more progress.
Of course, how can you even assess “progress” when the body does one thing one day but can’t do it the next day?
Yesterday, I could grab my right ankle with my hand while in a low lunge, but I couldn’t do it on the left side. Today, I could do that move on the left side but not the right.
Is this progress or regression or both?
Instead, I invoked the practice of acceptance.
Acceptance Is Not The Same As Giving In
There’s a common misperception that acceptance means you’re “giving in” or “giving up.”
Acceptance of the situation doesn’t mean I have to like it.
Acceptance doesn’t mean I concede that this is how it will be forever.
And it doesn’t mean I can’t change the situation.
In fact, acceptance is a prerequisite to change.
See it as it is, in unfiltered reality. Only then can you work to change it.
Acceptance is a release of expectation — how I think it “should” be. It’s a letting go of the resistance to the present moment.
Acceptance was my mantra, repeated silently with every exhale.
This is where it is today.
No “shoulds.” No judgments. No blaming.
One thing I’ve learned in mindfulness practice is to ask, can I be with this?
I found that this question doesn’t always work well for me; it’s too easy, when I’m in a rebellious mood, to say, “No.”
Instead, I prefer to ask,
How can I be with this?
The point is not to come up with a strategy. Merely posing the question in this way unlocks self-compassion, which facilitates acceptance.
The Real Yoga
Many people mistakenly believe that tree pose is the yoga.
Tree pose is simply a vehicle to get to the real yoga.
The real yoga is the noticing, observing, inquiry, and engaging in self-compassion and acceptance.
This is the practice of yoga. Tree pose is optional.