I lower down to chaturanga dandasana and feel the bead of sweat dripping down my face. I want to wipe it away but know I won’t be able to support myself with just one hand. My arms start to shake as I realize my breath is speeding up and I am losing my form. I have a choice, but sometimes my panicked body makes it for me as I fall to the ground. Other times, I will be balanced in natarajasana (dancers pose), lose my drishti and feel the panic rise up as I realize I have to consciously put my foot back to the ground or gravity will do it for me.

“Turn panic into patience.”

It is always then that I hear Philip Ursa‘s voice (or my mother’s, since she has adopted this saying for life as well),

“Turn panic into patience.”

Why do we fall or take ourselves out of a pose? It is most often because our bodies are feeling panicked. Maybe we are holding our breath; maybe we are not keeping our core strong. Maybe, as we take a breath in eagle pose, we immediately think of an email that needs to be sent or that ‘toothpaste’ needs to be added to the shopping list. Sometimes, we step into a pose and realize that it is a bit uncomfortable. A bit hard, or possibly confusing. Your body is screaming for you to stop, to rest, to give you reprieve from this challenge.

In all of those moments, can you find a way to turn that panic into patience? To tell yourself, “Yes- I am feeling panicked,” but not allow that feeling to interrupt your thinking? For you to know that your feelings, while valid, do not need to dictate your actions?

Yoga teaches us this important lesson for life. Being in an uncomfortable pose does not mean it is time to drop out, but if you must, do it not out of panic, but with awareness and choice. Yoga shows us that a challenge is just that- an opportunity to discover a way to overcome. This challenge could be a new yoga pose or pressing the pause button (which my coworker, Tom Epperson, discusses here). Because, that is essentially what this idea of turning panic into patience is- you feel panicked and instead of responding with that panicked feeling, you allow yourself to think, emote, and act with awareness and choice (think about a child breaking a family heirloom, a team mate not passing the ball even though you are open, or a coworker not coming prepared to a meeting).

Do you need to use “turn panic into patience” as a mantra? I challenge you to think of the moments that make you feel panic, and think about if your actions need to reflect that panic or if your actions can be ones of awareness and choice.



Danielle Aaronson

Danielle Aaronson

Danielle’s mission is to inspire leaders to make intentional choices that move them to positive action. She speaks at conferences, management summits, and leadership programs as well as facilitates efforts with executives and senior leaders at organizations seeking to influence their culture. Her mantra, “be the change you wish to see in the world” has allowed her to strive every day to be the best she can be and help others recognize the potential they have to make a positive difference. @deaaronson

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