In the journey of yoga often when you first experience a yoga pose you believe it has one purpose, usually with a physical body benefit. As you practice you realize they are about so much more. Chair pose is like that. Chair pose begins with feet together, and knees together and hands on your quads. Then there is the lowering of the hips, as if you were sitting in a chair. But there is no chair.
Chair pose also has a few other names, Lightning Bolt pose, Awkward pose, and Fierce pose. These descriptions are less about the shape of the pose, though lightning bolt is certainly a very clear visual image, and more about the experience of the pose. Be warned. It’s intense. This pose will wake you up, challenge you and gift you with sore legs.
Let’s be very clear. Chair pose is not comfortable.
So why are you going to want to inflict an uncomfortable pose of fierceness on your beautiful precious body? To practice trust.
Practice trust? Why would anyone need to practice trust? Because life is one exercise of trust after the other.
By the time any of us are old enough to get a driver’s license, we had had a few laps around the block of life. Some friendships have gone haywire, you’ve experienced some grand disappointments, maybe even a broken heart. Depending on how we see these experiences we make subconscious decisions. Often, after we recover we make rules and set all kinds of parameters and red flags or boundaries to make sure we don’t have to feel those not-so-pleasant things EVER AGAIN. Often these experiences are valuable lessons for life and making better choices. But sometimes I’ve gone too far in the other direction trying to protect myself.
I remember when my children were young looking at the parents of teenagers and wondering how they could possibly manage the fear of their child taking a bus to school, all by themselves. It was so far from what felt possible for me as I hugged my tiny precious baby and felt my own vulnerability. Could I ever imagine recovering if something happened to my child? Maybe I’d just lock us both inside. Forever. To keep us safe.
I tried that once when I felt really scared. After a few days of hibernating like that, I got bored and realized that was not going to work. I took a breath and summoned my courage and decided to trust that we’d make it to the convenience store and back all in one piece. And we did.
I’ve realized life, is one million tiny steps on the highwire of trust. Sure it would be easier to put a rope on the floor and just trace it with safe, easy steps. But I know I’d get bored and realized I was not actually living my life.
I want to grow and thrive so I absolutely must be able to lean into new possibilities, with the wisdom gleaned from experience, but also with trust in my own strength to handle whatever happens, and make it to the other side.
In chair pose first, you have to trust your own strength, your body, to hold you up. You have to have the confidence that you can lower down, you can stress your body system, and your quads, and still be safe. You must gather the confidence that you are strong and able to press to push yourself beyond what is comfortable. In Chair pose I build my strength, courage and ability to keep hopeful for the future.
Experiment with Chair pose this week to build your capacity to be fierce about trust. See it as the lightning bolt to wake you up to what matters in your life. Embrace the awkwardness to try something out of your comfort zone and take the next step toward a new possibility.
Be with the discomfort and fierce beauty of it all.