In a world that is constantly demanding and incentivizing action, power, dominance and material accomplishment, being soft is not something we prioritize. We favor fast over the slow, speaking instead of listening, results over experience, and singularity over wholeness. In fact, more likely than not, in this moment you are doing at least two things at once, feeling a subconscious need to produce, accomplish, and be seen, further fueling your ego.
And, though all that driven, ego-fueling, masculine, yang energy is purposeful and feels good, without the balance of the slower, feminine, yin counterpart, it can lead to some serious mental turbulence and burn-out. Both sides need to be in balance to function usefully and efficiently. We (both men and women) are made up of equal parts masculine and feminine energy. When we favor only the masculine, we can become very narcissistic, short-tempered and greedy. What’s worse, when we perpetually deny one side of ourselves, we can also and lose sight of an integral connection to a more peaceful, calmer, connected sense of being.
But where did we get the notion that feminine energy and softness are weak in the first place?
There is more strength in knowing your limits and connectivity than there is in pushing through and making impossible demands of yourself day in and day out.
Even within our practice it can be challenging to keep the masculine, egoic, yang in check. How many times have you pushed your way through a chaturanga or held that plank pose longer than your body was telling you to. There’s a fine line between challenging yourself out of a genuine desire to grow and challenging yourself to fit expectation.
Let’s not forget that yoga is practiced as a tool to get closer to a more balanced sense of being. It just happens to build a better physical body along the way. If you’re flogging yourself with chaturangas, (masculine), after a long day grinding at the office, (super masculine), you’re not doing yourself any favors. Next time ask yourself, is this serving to balance me? Is this what my mind needs right now? How much of what I’m doing is so that my butt looks better in those jeans? Be truthful and trust that its okay to skip that chaturanga and stay in child’s pose if you need to, you might even learn something about yourself in the stillness.
True strength lies in knowing that it’s okay to be soft.