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“It’s when you are most confused that transformation happens.”   I heard those words a few times in my yoga class this morning, as the teacher encouraged us to continue through challenging places.

It makes sense to me – this idea that confusion precedes transformation.  Think of what it takes to create new habits.  I often compare learning to climbing a mountain:  at first there is no path, so the way is difficult.  Over time, your footsteps create a new path, and the climb becomes easier, pleasurable.  When we create new habits, and discover our bodies in new yoga poses, we really are creating new paths: new neural pathways in the brain, new openings in the body.

Today, in class, I found myself in confusion several times. I used to think I was fairly open through the chest, and that back bends came relatively easy to me.  Ha!  I have been deceived!  I am discovering that there is so much more to back bending, and so much more room to open.

In class, we did back bends over a chair. I won’t explain the set up here, as it is a bit confusing, and probably should be learned from a teacher.  Generally, the focus is on engaging through the dorsal spine in order to curl back, opening the shoulders and chest even more.  This is an incredibly difficult position for me, and my initial instinct is to think I can’t go there.

Confusion reigned as my body and mind said no, don’t thing so.  “The first 5 back bends  don’t count,” my teacher said…. and so we kept on going…  and wonder of wonders, after several tries, I found myself at a new edge, opening even more through the chest.

Do you know that thing we did as kids, where you stand ina door way and press the backs of your hands against the frame?  Then, when you step out, your arms naturally float up…. did anyone else out there ever try that?   Well, coming out of my final back bend was like that.  I felt as if my shoulders naturally floated back and down, settling comfortably onto my back, and my chest rose, opening, allowing me to stand tall and breathe deeply, my body completely re-aligned.

Wow, cool stuff.  Confusion precedes transformation.  It’s not just physical.  There is a deeper, sometimes even emotional opening that occurs as the body shifts.  Coming out of that last back bend, a surge of emotion rose up within me, unnamed, unbidden.  This happened the last time I tried these moves as well. Nothing that needed to be addressed, or even named.  Just noticed…. as if it were simply energy in motion.  Transformation; a sense of something shifting.

I think we forget sometimes that we can persevere through tough times. It is easy to say enough is enough, this is as far as I can go.  It takes a bit more will, and a strong desire to dive deep in to a moment of confusion. But is it worth it?  Can we be willing to really feel lost, or foolish, or confused – to try something new in spite of these feelings? To let go of the need to “do things right” and to just be with the stuckness or confusion allows things to shift.

Persevere, and shift happens.

Is there an instance within your life or practice where you have seen this dynamic at play?  Does your confusion ever lead to transformation?  Feel free to share your story in a comment.  I would love to hear from you!

Meanwhile ~ I wish you great moments of confusion leading to fantastic aha’s in your yoga practice today!  🙂

Namaste, my yogi friends.