It took me five years of intensive yoga to get into Trikonasana, also known as triangle pose. My hips would not open up. My lower back screamed “No!!” And I had to listen to that no because I kept injuring myself when I didn’t.
My vow is patience. Yoga, like wisdom, takes a long time. We are not perfect; we are not supposed to be perfect. We are here to learn how to meet ourselves where we are, then grow from there. Anxiety sometimes sweeps through me while I am holding an asana. My ego cries out, insisting I cannot continue, must not continue, or conversely, telling me I should push harder, I should be perfect! Yeah! I should be younger! I should be better than I am in that moment of the pose! The yoga class is the ideal environment to meet the ego, embrace it, accept it and then perhaps become more than it.
What do I say in response? I say anxiety is normal, yet everyone makes it wrong, wrong, wrong. We do everything we can to avoid it, kill it, numb it, dull it, run from it. In yoga, as in meditation, we meet anxiety. We notice it is like waves on the ocean. It comes. It peaks. It passes.
When that anxiety sweeps in, I lean into an image of Jizo, holding the baby safely. Nobody can hurt her. My own shame-laden, perfectionist, worried mind loses its grip. I embrace the wounded part of my mind with Jizo’s ground beneath my feet. My instinctive desire for instant gratification does not get to have everything it craves.
I say, inwardly, “Jizo hold me safe,” and the resistance and chatter stills, for a moment. Sometimes for hours. Sometimes for days. It always returns (nobody gets to be peaceful all the time) but I have a protector within me, my Jizo-nature, that aids me in not telling the same old story that my ego insists is real. You know that story, the You-Are-Not-Enough-and-You-Never-Will-Be Story. That story is not true. In the asana, we begin to know it is not true. In meditation, we know it is not true.