Definition: susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm. This is what the thesaurus tells us: susceptible, weak, defenseless, helpless, exposed, open to, in danger, at risk.
Well, I didn’t get the most uplifting words when I looked up the word vulnerable just now. But then isn’t often we don’t find the things that we are looking for? Other things come up. The truth is we are all a bunch of humans just trying to stay on two feet and we are susceptible, exposed and vulnerable. Luckily I have been practicing yoga so I go through this on a daily basis. Every day I put on stretchy pants and walk into a room of friends, family and strangers who are all there for a different reason. We laugh, sweat, struggle, laugh, succeed, laugh, love, sweat, repeat. Coming together to practice being the best version of our selves, we are vulnerable but we are all together.
There are two Sanskrit terms, sukha and sthira, that provide a sense of balance and flow to asana, meditation and all life practices. Sukha means soft, delightful, pleasant, flexible, light while sthira is stable, strong, firm, dark or unmoving. If to be vulnerable is to be “open to” then it is necessary that we allow ourselves to trust, to let down our guard and to go with the flow. If our intention is to grow, to be good, strong, healthy, happy and to move forward there is no one who will say that it is going to be easy. Every day I wake up and take three deep Breaths of Gratitude. Some of you have done these in savasana at the end of one of my classes:
1. First Inhale: bring to mind a moment that was difficult, challenging or a struggle. First Exhale: Breathe out gratitude for that moment and the opportunity to overcome.
2. Second Inhale: bring to mind a moment that was joyful, pleasant or happy. Second Exhale: Breathe out gratitude for that moment and for all the happiness in your life.
3. Third Inhale: Breathe into your whole body and fill each cell with gratitude for yourself. Third Exhale: Be grateful for your body, your practice and your heart, today and all days.
A long deep breath in and out the nose (ujjayi) will bring more heat and energy to the body and mind. For a more relaxing or cooling practice inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth. Either way, make sure you relax your face and shoulders (that’s why I like to do this one laying down).
So please listen when I say we are strong, powerful and unstoppable as humans but we are also soft, pleasant and vulnerable. That is one of the reasons I love yoga, it has taught me how to embrace my weaknesses. It has surrounded me with people that keep me balanced and inspired. This practice has brought so much joy and sweat and laughter and love into my life. I am eternally grateful:
1. The moment my 26-year-old self decided to open a business with no clue what I was doing… Difficult.
2. The feeling of the studio when the sun is coming through the windows and the wind-chill outside is -35 degrees. Pleasant.
3. The opportunity to practice daily, to write, to share yoga with anyone willing to listen and to be vulnerable. Namaste.
"Vulnerability is the only authentic state. Being vulnerable means being open, for wounding, but also for pleasure. Being open to the wounds of life means also being open to the bounty and the beauty. Don't mask or deny your vulnerability: it is your greatest asset. Be vulnerable: quake and shake in your boots with it."