The great duality: fear and courage, light and dark (Open Yoga Blogging Community)

Via Open Yoga Blogging Community
on Jun 24, 2011
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Image borrowed with thanks.

When we go to the yoga mat, we take fear head-on. We don’t “fear fear.” Or, at least that is what I gather from the responses to last week’s answer to the question, “Are all yogis afraid?” Most of our bloggers answered this question with a resounding, “YES!!” We are, all of us, afraid. But, fear is not necessarily a bad thing. The more we explore fear, the more we realize it is just one of the many dualities that comes up on the mat.

Richard says, “Doubt is as valuable as faith,” because doubt and fear give us a chance to be courageous.

Yoga allows us to feel both sides at once. Fear and courage. Yin and Yang. Ha and Tha.

Temple says, “It’s such a gorgeous feeling to feel joy and fear in the same inhalation.” Many writers pointed to the way yoga does not make them afraid but rather allows them to experience fear in a safe, supported environment.

As Susi says, “I’m pretty sure my yoga practice is the reason I am very aware of my feelings.”

Nadine echoes this, saying, “For me, if there is ever an appropriate place for fear, it is on my yoga mat.” And in finding a safe place to explore fear, to see it’s counterpart, courage, give rise in us, we give ourselves permission to be how we are today.

As Will puts it,”Being aware of (fear’s) source and how (it) manifests, is empowering and such a frigging relief.”

Coming to terms with fear, with the shadow side of the yogic experience, gives us a chance to see it for what it is. Linnea calls fear, “This amazing golden ticket that is so valuable if we let it be.” Fear can be the gateway to courage. Dark the gateway to light. Yoga the gateway to experiencing both. Ultimately, learning to accept fear, be with fear, and not “fear fear” on the mat allows us to not “fear fear” in life. As Chelsea says,” If your dream isn’t scary, it’s not big enough!”

Do you recall a time when you allowed yourself to experience the “dark” side of an emotion in order to later experience the “light?” What dualities does your yoga practice bring to you? Does experiencing dualities on the mat serve as a guide to living through them in your life? Yoga teachers out there, can you give some insight into leading your students into this experience (and hopefully out the other side)?

Write your own blog in response as a comment below. If you already have a blog, you are welcome to cut and paste here with a link to your blog. You are invited to take on the topic of “Duality,” but this is a completely open community, so have at it!


About Open Yoga Blogging Community

Welcome to Elephant's Open Yoga Blogging Community where you can write whatever you like, and others can comment. Elephant writer Bethany Eanes has generously agreed to serve as discussion moderator. 1) Write your own blogs as comments here. If you already have a blog, you are welcome to cut and paste your best blogs here. 2) To subscribe and get e-mail notices, write a comment or reply, choosing to get e-mail notification for either just replies to that comment, or to all comments. 3) Register with Intense Debate and enter your bio, photo, and links there. This will appear in a pop-up when a reader mouses over your photo. 4) We will excerpt the best entries and discussions in the next week’s Community Blog. Some will become Elephant Yoga articles. --Bob W. Yoga Editor


11 Responses to “The great duality: fear and courage, light and dark (Open Yoga Blogging Community)”

  1. Bethany Eanes says:

    Right on, Richard! Even the yin & yang symbol makes sure to show that there is darkness in light, light in darkness. Love thinking of this not as "duality" but "non-duality." Also love the Ghandi quote.

  2. tanya lee markul says:

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Assoc. Yoga Editor
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  3. Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

    Bob W. Yoga Editor

  4. Ramesh says:

    lovely comment. Thanks.

  5. Just posted to "Popular Lately" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

    Bob W. Yoga Editor
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  6. ECoop2011 says:


    It’s been a few weeks since my last post and that’s because I’ve been in the toddler trenches. My beautiful newly-turned 3 year old, Emerson, has been sick with one virus after another, which, I’m told, is common for children of this age. Only problem is, that means no time to write, and TOO much time to surf the internet for shoes (writing requires some semblance of concentration; the other I can do with Dora blasting in the background). Case in point: 3 unopened boxes from Zappos (destined to all be returned) sitting by my office chair. (Well, come to think of it, I’ll most likely keep the Elizabeth & James pair- been dying over them since they hit the stands). So, what, exactly, is the point of this post? you are probably wondering as you drag your mouse to click OFF spiritandsole and onto The Huffington Post… ? Allow me to share:

    It’s about the dichotomy between what’s important and what’s frivolous. And where the two intersect. And how the later sometimes acts as a numbing cream or boo-boo buddy or chocolate syrup coating for the former—that is, when the former is distressing, painful, anxiety-inducing, and/or any of the trying emotions that come with real-life stressful situations.

    I’ve been pondering this discrepancy and how, whenever I get supremely stressed about the “things that matter,” I tend to default my energy towards the things that don’t. (Well, at least the things that do not matter quite as much…Because you can’t tell me that a superbly fitting pair of slimming-low-waisted Current/Elliot flares do not matter at all). And I’ve come to a few conclusions about the Everyday Girl’s tendency to shop when stressed:

    1. IT’S OK. It’s okay to want to distract the brain from situations that are painful. That’s normal. And often times, HEALTHY. It’s called SUBLIMATION. So go ahead girl and channel that negative energy into something creative and positive (even if that means going online and piecing together your dream ensemble from various websites including shopbop, Planet Blue, and Neimans).
    2. THIS TOO SHALL PASS. And no matter what it is, you will most likely end up looking back at the stressful situation with some level of nostalgia. (Um, hello mommies who anguish over sleepless nights with new born babes and then look back when the kid is off to kindergarden, tearing up over how it was just yesterday they were changing the kid’s poopy diapies at 3am).
    3. PHILANTHROPY works wonders for all involved. Satisfy your deep seated need to shop while giving to others. When things get rough in your life, I know the tendency is to take, but did you ever consider how great it might make you feel to give to others? Case(s) in point:

    * TOMS Shoes. Buy a pair, and they donate a pair. If you haven’t heard of or seen these yet, please, crawl out of your lady-cave. They’re not only a fundamentally phenomenal cause, but are the super trend right now in Summer 2011 fashion.
    * Donating to a favorite charity or someone running/walking for a cause. (The MS Society is my recipient of choice and I recently donated to the campaigns of two childhood friends walking for this cause. I can assure you, you’ve never met a girl who gets a greater high off of that Piperlime box arriving at my doorstep, but the thrill of GIVING to this cause surpasses even that. I’d give everything to find a cure).
    * Lucky Magazine always lists designers and companies who give proceeds of their sales to charity.

    Give yourself a break and know that sometimes, its okay to buy when all you really want to do is cry. Then remember, giving IS getting, so buy for others or rather, GIVE to others, and some of those problems that have been weighing you down, well… they might just take a hike.

  7. Bethany Eanes says:

    A lot of emotion in one moment, but that's the beauty of it. Thanks for sharing!

  8. […] bloggers everywhere. The first week we took on the topic of fear, and the second week we tackled duality (or non-duality as some bloggers pointed out). Fear and duality. Pretty heavy topics. We’re […]

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