Sitting in a circle, legs stretched straight out in L-Sitting Pose, we raise our arms to sit up even taller. We then reach for our toes in Peanut Butter and Jelly Pose. Some of the kids groan or sigh as they discover the furthest they can touch is not much past their knees. Then they see others in the class who can reach further than them. This comparison may lead to frustration with the pose, which can translate to irritation with oneself. Overstretching can occur, some of the kids wanting to reach their toes NOW.
We may not get to touch our toes today. We may not even achieve it in a few sessions. It might take much longer than that. It hinges upon what we are told is a virtue: patience.
In exploring this forward fold asana I see a valuable lesson about patience unfolding. Patience can be defined as the ability to wait calmly, the capacity to accept delay without getting angry. This subject is so timely with the holidays quickly approaching. I’m thinking about this while going about my daily routine — one that includes being stuck in traffic and waiting in lines at the grocery store. As the holidays loom closer, the lines will get longer and tempers will get shorter. There will be more rushing about and even more frazzled nerves. And it makes me wonder, where is patience? And if I don’t have patience, how can it be cultivated?
The seeds of patience must be sown and nurtured within ourselves before we can express it towards others. I have to be patient with myself first. If I cannot be patient with myself, then how can I expect to be patient with others? I work on studying patience within my own practice, noticing that how far I can reach may vary from day to day. I may have to make adjustments and modifications. And hopefully this acknowledgment of where I am is how I view where others are within and beyond the yoga studio.
Revisiting PB&J Pose, we work on determining and then accepting where we currently are in the pose. I assure one student that she is where she needs to be right now if she can only comfortably reach halfway to her toes. The added stretch will evolve with time and practice. We set small goals to slowly progress to the next level. Is this easy? No. Is there still frustration? Most likely! But at least this learning experience is a start in developing patience and self-acceptance. When we are less hurried and impatient with ourselves maybe we can then be less hurried and impatient with others. We become calm. We are more focused and tolerant. We see our goals as possible. We persevere.
“Patience is being like the ocean, slowly taking back the sand on the beach. It is in no hurry, because it knows eventually it will gain, or regain what it desires.” – Brian Martin