“Boundaries boundaries boundaries. Don’t leave home without them” – Jeff Brown
Boundaries? Isn’t that a bit… non-yoga? What about “we are all one” and “namaste” and moving away from the idea of separation?
Actually, holding courageous boundaries is essential to yoga. The first of the Yamas is our clue to the truth in this – Ahimsa, or Non-Violence. In Ahimsa we seek to do no harm to any living thing, including ourselves. To hold compassion in our hearts and abstain from harmful thought patterns.
How easy is it to spiral into harmful thought patterns when we’ve just said yes to yet another request for help that will have us on the verge of burnout? Have you ever felt a little resentful towards a friend, or angry with yourself, because you agreed to something in order to be “nice”, when really it was adding unnecessary pressure to your day or week?
It’s hard to see at the time, but in these situations, the kind thing to do (for yourself and your friend) is to say no, with love. That’s the boundary. It doesn’t separate you from your friend, it ensures you maintain a healthy relationship. But setting that boundary takes courage. We fear that saying no will somehow lead to us losing love. This is a misperception of the ego self. When you come back to centre and remember that there is no separation, that you are love, there is no possibility of you losing it.
Setting a healthy boundary simply amplifies your love for yourself and your friend, by ensuring no harmful thoughts and feelings like resentment and anger become attached to you. We need boundaries so that we can be the best versions of ourselves. When we’re overstretched and undernourished, we can’t show up as our highest selves.
Our time on the mat mirrors life in so many ways. One of the most courageous boundaries you can display in your practice is to gift your body with rest when needed. This is why Child’s Pose (or Downward Facing Hero, as we now prefer to call it) is always available to you in your flow. Courage is taking yourself to a rest position when your body is screaming but you feel you “should” push through. Courage is folding into yourself with your forehead on the mat and shedding your tears when you’re exhausted but don’t want to “disappoint” your teacher.
Picture yourself trying to set up in a balance pose with your gaze firmly fixed on the person in front of you who’s swaying and falling and flailing around. Or moving through a flow you know like the back of your hand while watching somebody who’s doing something completely different. What happens? You lose your balance, you lose your flow.
Other people’s “stuff” interferes with our flow. It’s tempting to watch them. It’s tempting to doubt ourselves and look outside ourselves for validation and assurance. It’s tempting to then get involved in whatever it is that we see out there. Before we know it, we’re doing someone else’s flow. Someone else’s life.
Courageous boundaries keep you in your lane and on your purpose. Courage is listening to your own body, your own heart, your own soul, and acting with love despite your fear. Sometimes the biggest boundaries we need to set are with ourselves. This week, why not try a new Hero’s pose? Listen to your truth, and whenever you need to, curl into yourself, place your forehead on the earth, and breathe.
Need some more Courageous Boundaries in your life? Check out Lauren’s Courageous Boundaries flow on A Live Yogi @aliveyogi.
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