I love the quote on the graphic because it harkens back to my favorite philosopher of all time, our good friend Aristotle. Aristotle was a practical man and did not take hard and fast positions on this or that. He backed into any particular situation by applying "the virtues." The Master Key (one of them anyway!) to life according to Aristotle is to apply the virtue of "deliberating well. " Virtuous people are introspective, self-critical, rational, and curious" (O'Toole). He never was hell bent on being a right fighter and telling us lesser brained what is the right thing to pursue. He asserted that the people who cultivated the habit of discernment, mindfullness or awareness would be led to what is right for themselves and this would lead to what is right. He believed that this consistent introspection would cause a person to act virtuously. He did categorize (Aristotle categorized everything) "the good" into socially prized "goods" and those that are "universally praised" goods. However, drilling down further into his philosophy is beyond the scope of this blog post.
Yoga is an art and a science. By getting on the mat each day you're force into contemplation. When you feel lazy and don't want to pry yourself off the couch and into the yoga studio you start to think to about the consequences of not going. A brain battle begins. On the continuum of health (all or nothing) you realize that to do nothing just about insures no immediate trauma. But over the long haul you recognize that the body will atrophy. The asana methodology is one of inquiry of the mind via the grounded stretching and strengthening of the physical body. Yoga is really about integrated training on a grand scale. We practice three actions over and over again: Soften, Flex, and Stretch. "The benefits of increased strength, range of motion, a sense of stable serenity appear because the body, mind, and emotions, are woven into the fabric of our world and our universe" (Clement). We are not separate on an energetic level from all that we see surrounding us.
Sometimes to press forward with yoga means you need to back off. Yoga, like life is full of opposites, yin and yang. A beginner will feel all kinds of emotions and physical manifestations or sensations that can be disorienting or unfamiliar. The body has millions of sensors, our brain is the dashboard gauges that interprets the signals from the body as pain or intensity. Misalignment or injury will light up the dashboard gauge as pain. An intense stretch can be misinterpreted as pain, but this feeling may be something that needs to be held or leaned into. How do you understand Pain vs. Intensity? Go back to Aristotle and train toward the virtue of "deliberating well." Practice practice practice. If Aristotle were around today, he'd be pretty stoked on yoga I'm sure of it.