Flat Tire: Can Yoga repair a Deflated Heart?

Via Mid Walsh
on Aug 9, 2011
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Source: ehow.com

Recently I asked someone I’m close to for help with a challenging and persistent problem.  She thought about it for a few weeks and then turned me down.

You know, I had been riding along OK up this hill I’m on. But when I heard her refusal, the pedals of my bike turned to lead. The steering got slushy. I felt a flat tire coming on.

And the particulars of her rejection put her in a light I hadn’t seen before. I’m not sure that I like what I now see in my old friend.

Pfffffft….there it went—all the air gone right out of my tire. My rim is on the road. Alternately sad and angry, I feel every little bump in the pavement jittering through my frame. I’d like to call it quits and take a taxi home.

But instead I take out my yogi road kit. There must be some tool in there to help me climb this hill with a deflated heart.

It’s the Tour de France, the endless bike ride through chateau country and up the angry Alps. I’m a racer in the middle of the pack, the peloton. Patanjali and the other ancient authors glide ahead in the lead, and other forgotten sages cut the wind in front of them.


With the help of the yamas and niyamas, I dismount the problem, find a safe place off the road and start to patch my tube.

Ahimsa reminds me to not retaliate against my friend as I contend with the pain of her refusal.

Satya tells me what I now see as a weakness in her may only be a refraction of my own hurt feelings.

Asteya steers me away from diminishing her own legitimate experience of my request for help.

Brahmacharya reminds me not to overindulge in reflecting on our pain-producing interaction.

Aparigraha says to not grasp for resolution. Healing will come on its own schedule, not on mine.

Practicing santosha helps me to seek contentment even as my feelings ache.

Svadhyaya and ishvarapranidhana remind to direct my attention inward and toward the infinite, likely the best way to squeeze the juice out of this experience.

This is a good start.

Then, like working the tube back onto the rim of the bike tire, asanas get the twists out and bring me into alignment.   Ever so slightly, they free my body and emotions to heal from within.

My pranayama practice stimulates the healing energy that rests  in the still small voice of the breath. Under its influence, my jarring emotions fall into the background for a few minutes every day; the intelligence of my mind willingly surrenders for a moment to the wisdom of my heart.

Like the regular rhythm of a bicycle pump, my pranayama practice begins to re-inflate the tire. The recovery occurs incrementally, day by day. It’s fueled by my own desire to grow—by the biker’s love, if you will, of forward motion.

But by itself, the desire to grow wouldn’t be sufficient. What really gets me riding straight again is the deftly constructed framework of yoga. It’s surprisingly lightweight, like my bike, and of elegant design. It’s made of a remarkable material, which the Upanishads describe in the following passage.

“No matter what they are in the worldwhether it is a tiger, a lion, a wolf, a boar, a worm, a moth, a gnat, or a mosquito, they are all made of that. The finest essence of all of them is the self of this whole world.

That is the truth; that is the self.*”

The self is a miraculous and composite material. My yogic bike is made from it, and it’s the stuff that enlivens me and my friend. For this particular road repair, awareness of the self by far the most powerful tool in my Patanjali tool pouch.

As I climb back on my bike and head up the hill, my mind momentarily holds the idea that the same self fuels every other biker in this great melee I’m riding in. It’s a powerful thought.

Though I’ll rejoin  the pack with a new ache on board and an evolving understanding of my friend, there will be amazing fire in my quads.


* Chandyoga Upanishad, 9:3 Translated by Patrick Olivelle


About Mid Walsh

Mid Walsh is a yoga teacher, poet, sculler, educational publishing professional, and co-owner of Dancing Crow Yoga. He lives with his wife and their enchanted cat Carmen in a house near the ocean in Massachusetts.


13 Responses to “Flat Tire: Can Yoga repair a Deflated Heart?”

  1. Shilpa Rao says:

    Thank you for bringing the message of the yamas and niyamas home with your examples. Very effective! I like your article.

  2. tanya lee markul says:

    Really dig this!

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Assoc. Yoga Editor
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  3. tanya lee markul says:

    Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

  4. misa derhy says:

    I can relay completely on your writing right now, right here, with my heart deflated by my bro, and trying to keep myself in the centre…love your yogi "tools" , your "road kit". I use the same, and even if it is hard by moments, I always remember, where the pain is, ego is…so let s work on it. Posting on elephant right now!

  5. Jason Gan says:


  6. Patricia says:

    Beautiful! Thank you!

  7. Rajni Tripathi says:

    >3 it! Great reminder when we forget to recenter and understand that we are all, essentially, one being

  8. Jeff says:

    Thanks so much for opening my eyes to the yamas and niyamas!

  9. toptory says:

    Smile. Something is why, every smile, makes me fear, every smile, are more anguish.? Hide your eyes that finally step outside

  10. tanya lee markul says:

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

  11. […] Flat Tire: Can Yoga repair a Deflated Heart? […]

  12. […] Flat Tire: Can Yoga repair a Deflated Heart? […]

  13. […] Ishvara Pranidhana means to surrender to divine will. Trust that the universe knows what it is doing. It knows that there is someone or something better out there for you. It is guiding you on your path, and this person is not part of it. […]