Facing the terrible

 “We must assume our existence as broadly as we in any way can; everything, even the unheard-of, must be possible in it. That is at bottom the only courage demanded of us; to have courage for the strange, the most singular and most inexplicable that we may encounter...If only we arrange our life according to that principle which counsels us that we must always hold to the difficult, then that which now still seems to us the most alien will become what we most trust and find most faithful. How should we be able to forget those ancient myths that are at the beginning of all peoples, the myths about dragons that at the last moment turn into princesses; perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us once beautiful and brave. Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being something helpless that wants help from us.

So you must not be frightened ... if a sadness rises up before you larger than you have ever seen; if a restiveness, like light and cloud-shadows, passes over your hands and all that you do. You must think that something is happening with you, that life has not forgotten you, that it holds you in its hand; it will not let you fall. Why do you want to shut out of your life any agitation, any pain, any melancholy, since you do not really know what these states are working on you?”

—Rainer Maria Rilke


Ganda Bherundāsana. Bheranda means terrible; formidable. Ganda means the cheek or side of the face

This pose is facing the terrible side.

When I began Iyengar Yoga at just turned 18, I was experiencing (what I now understand as) post-traumatic stress disorder, through those college years and into my early twenties. Iyengar Yoga classes and practice brought relief from constant suffering. At first it was brief respites. Experiencing peace, freedom from the persistent anxiety, made me seek after yoga more and more. Iyengar Yoga progressively lifted the fear. Now, practice is for facing the dragons, the terrible aspect, so there will be more and more courage to face up to the difficulties of life.