Yoga Lab 1: Fear & Reactivity by Brittany Lu

My interest in yoga runs deep, and as the scope of my practice continues to evolve, my curiosity surrounding the physical practice of yoga evolves with it. My primary interest in this phase is looking into the ways in which asana practice can support and motivate self-study. I am interested in using asana practice as a laboratory for looking closely at behavioural patterns, particularly those concerning fear and habitual reactivity. I am fascinated with exploring a slow and methodical practice of postures that have the potential to increase the psychological threshold for discomfort. In my experience, this careful work with our boundaries can begin to replace ignorance and patterned responses with insight and intelligent discernment. Ultimately, I am invested in exploring and sharing how our yoga practice can become a daily experiment in cultivating our capacity to live more courageously, compassionately and consciously.

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I believe that many of our aversions in life can be reduced to a fear of death, injury or failure. By working on arm balances, back bends and inversions in my practice, I’m learning not only how to hold myself in these poses, but how to fall gracefully. How to fail gracefully. Without failure we cannot create or evolve. More than once over the years has my ego gotten hold of my practice (to my own detriment). And yet, these missteps have become some of my most enlightening experiences. By placing the end product of a pose or a goal on such a pedestal, we unwittingly devalue all of our steps along the way. So often, we prize the destination over the journey, which is problematic because the destination is not our lives.

During the process of working with our bodies, we can begin to unravel not just where our boundaries lie but why we have come to hold them. On the path to self-compassion, this information is invaluable. Without compassion for ourselves we can never learn to cherish our failures as we do our successes or to embrace the entirety of our experience. Without willingness to falter we cannot grow or achieve anything uniquely our own, including the writing of our own stories. In our asana practice, it’s not flawless execution but rather deep concentration on all sensations that we are learning to harness. We are building a trust in our bodies’ intelligence and a clear discernment of what is possible, which limitations are of the mind and which are of the body. We are learning steadfastness and strengthening our capacity for observation over impulse. We are redefining what we are capable of.