Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Two Sided Coin of Acceptance

One of my frequent yoga intentions is the word and concept of acceptance

I use my focus on acceptance to be okay with not holding a posture as long as my yoga mat neighbors. I accept the fact that my body is different from their body. I accept that I should not be comparing our posture or bodies or movements at all. I accept that I have tight hip flexors that cannot fully get into padmasana (lotus). I accept that I have issues with virabhadrasana III (warrior 3). I try to use my focus on acceptance to be okay with where I'm at in each posture. I try to be compassionate towards myself and give my body a break. I have come a long way from where I was a year ago...and I've got a long way to go...and I don't have to get there by a certain date or time. Acceptance.

On Sunday, while holding utkatasana (chair pose), feeling the vibrations of an electric violin flow around the room and listening to the deep breath of the Hilltop Yoga community around me, I realized that acceptance is not one sided.

Acceptance is not just being okay with limitations and edges. Acceptance also means staying where you are when you know you can. It means sitting deeper in my chair, mentally and physically. Acceptance truly means accepting where you are. Limitations, edges and also my own ability to stick with it and to just be there. Being, not doing.

A good teacher told me "you can choose how you react to a posture, but you cannot choose the posture I put you in".

This concept is not unique to yoga asanas. We cannot always choose what happens to us. We can choose our reactions to the world. Acceptance is a two sided coin - honoring limitations and edges; sticking with it and going deeper. To paraphrase another great teacher, practice to your edge but don't slash at yourself with a samurai sword. Balance in being.


  1. Accept where you are in the moment, but don't let it define you. Accept that you have TEND to have tight hip flexors and that today you have a hard time with padmasana, but give yourself permission to change too. Another example, I cannot YET fully get into padmasana. This goes along with the school of thought of the power of words: never say you are bad at directions or remembering names. You'll never get better with that mantra. If you must acknowledge it, maybe "in the past directions haven't been a strength of mine, but they're getting better." Everything is malleable. Release self-limitation and you are unstoppable.

  2. Thank you for sharing your seeds of wisdom. :) Good reminders.

  3. Great post, Emily. Acceptance is such a fundamental thing and, not surprisingly, such a difficult thing to accomplish. In the end, we have to accept where we are about acceptance. :-)

  4. Caitlin - great point about the word TEND instead of reinforce that my hips are static and will always be that way. Thank you!

    Rose - hah I love concepts that turn in on themselves. Yes, accepting acceptance :)

    Janet - thank you!