“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.” – T.S. Eliot
There’s a difference between something that feels risky and is risky. Yoga practice helps highlight this difference. When we step onto our yoga mats it is generally a safe place to take risks. Many of the postures we will practice will feel risky. Certain poses may bring up an array of feelings and sensations, even the emotions of fear, doubt or anxiety. However, practiced mindfully, the practice of asana, yoga poses, is not that risky. We are okay. We are breathing. We are moving. We are alive and are waking up to how it feels to do something a little beyond our normal way of operating. We tap the edge in a pose and we feel a shot of excitement. We wobble and notice a hint of fear. However, most of the time the worst that can happen is that we fall out of a pose. While the experience of feeling risk is highlighted, when considering the entire spectrum of life, practicing yoga is ultimately a low-risk activity.
The stimuli that arise during our practice are opportunities to feel into the difference between feeling risk and actual risk. Research has shown that in general as human beings, we are not that good at analyzing risk. However, knowing this tendency to miscalculate risk, we can consciously choose to make a point to get better at this skill. And the better we become at analyzing risk, the better we become at seeing and taking opportunities in our lives. We can evaluate and distinguish what is risky and what may just feel risky but is actually an amazing chance to learn, grow or connect. We start to dream bigger, act bigger, and love bigger.
A lot of the magic we treasure in the world has been created by people who learned to step into the gap between what feels risky and what is risky. The more we can get into this space, the more opportunities we will seize, the more change we can inspire and the more magic we can bring into the world. Yoga is a time-tested and proven way to practice the skill of analyzing risk. With continued practice over time, yoga can teach us how we can fully inhabit this place of ongoing growth, transformation and connection. By becoming a wise risk-taker, we open an infinitely larger kaleidoscope of choices for ourselves and others. What possibilities will you create by taking a healthy risk?