Yesterday in yoga class we were all seated, our legs outstretched, leaning forward. Some of us needed straps to loop our toes. Some of us could barely grab our toes with our fingers. Flexi-girl laid her chest onto her thighs and relaxed. The teacher went over to her. "You're so flexible that it's harder for you. The purpose of this posture is to stretch."
Yes! Just because it's easy, doesn't mean that you don't have to work.
For a moment, Flexi-girl reminded my of one of my gifted high school chemistry students who never did her homework. This student was angry because she hadn't gotten an A on a test. I told her, "If you did the problems in the homework assignments, you'd have learned how to do the problems on the test."
She said, "I'm gifted. I don't have to study."
"Being gifted means that you can do more with what you study, if you work as hard as the other students."
Chemistry is like that -- there's a level of achievement possible to the gifted. A level that our society rewards with patents and contracts and prizes. A level that leads to life-saving drugs.
Yoga is not like that -- no matter how far you stretch, you still want that stretch. If you are flexible, like Flexi-girl, you can enter yoga competitions. You can pose for yoga photographs. But unlike in chemistry, where the achievements are the point of the effort, in yoga, the achievements are unimportant. The goals are personal. The daily stretch is key. And nobody else will benefit from your work.
I'm wondering if all the tough spots, especially the emotional pains and stretches that are not self-inflicted like yoga, are also for our health. If nothing else, that attitude makes them easier to live with. Seeking out the easy positions is not an option in daily life. If so, yoga is a metaphor an a training arena, not just a discipline.