What is the Value of Strength? What is the Value of Flexibility?

The external form is often what is highlighted and celebrated in the world of yoga. For many years, I practiced and practiced the form, feeling a sense of accomplishment, a sense of growth, finding my power to "overcome" or to just "be" with the intensity of the physical practice. I was eager to evolve, in a physical sense, believing that, if I did, I would also evolved in a mental, emotional, and spiritual sense. I thought that if I had the capacity to hold the {fill in the blank} arm balance longer, I could muster up the same endurance and perseverance to hold myself together in life's challenges. I thought that if I could find the strength to overcome the fear of turning myself upside down, that that same strength would show up when life turned upside down. That's the modern yoga teacher's rhetoric. It was mine, as well....

...that is, until life broke me down. Like really broke me down. And I scrambled back to those shapes and forms I made before with my body, but they didn't seem to be doing much of anything at all. Where was that strength and flexibility that I worked so hard to achieve? Why was I lacking inner stability and agility? Didn't I master those things? 

Inner stability and inner agility come from a knowing of one's self/Self. A knowing that comes by way of experiencing one's being. Yoga has always been intended to direct us there. It has always been, first and foremost, a spiritual practice in the sense that we have an opportunity to learn about who and what we are at our essence. Our deep, experiential knowing of that is what translates to inner strength/stability and flexibility/agility. That's it. Nothing else is needed. I used to joke with my yoga students, as they worked hard at learning to kick up to handstands, that if we think the handstand, itself, is what brings us to that inner state, we will find ourselves sorely mistaken when we get injured or as we inevitably age and are no longer able to "do" the thing that we think created the experience...

So, next time you hold that pose or reach for your toes, ask yourself, what's there? What's there that's not already here? And whatever you think is there, see if you can find it here. In this moment. With this breath. We are already whole. We are already complete. We are already stable and inherently agile at our core.