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Discipline is something you can back into

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Photo by Monica Felix @ www.monicafelix.com

I’m reminded of a mantra from one of my yoga instructors

The shortest distance to the heart is through the body.

Meaning, if there’s something you want to feel, if there’s an emotional experience you want to work through, you can back into it by changing your sheer physicality.

Take vulnerability, for example. If you want to practice being seen as you truly are, allowing yourself to be affected by the world around you, camel pose is the perfect posture. Not only is it the deepest backbend of the hatha series, it’s also only posture that fully exposes your throat, heart, belly and reproductive organs, all at the same time. Doesn’t get much more vulnerable than that.

I remember my first few months as a yogi. What I found was, the more I practiced, the more my body adapted. And after about a year, I finally bent my way to the full expression of camel pose.

Interestingly, I also noticed greater vulnerability in other areas of my life. My openness to risk and uncertainty and emotional exposure dramatically increased. I also started crying in public a lot more. Because as the body goes, so goes the heart and mind.

What might yoga open you to?

Scott Ginsberg is a writer, daily practitioner and work study volunteer at Bikram Yoga Park Slope.