We already know about IQ and even EQ, but there is a new concept that is now drawing attention known as AQ, or adversity quotient. Stephen Cope refers to it in his new book, ‘Soul Friends’: “We might call it a measure of adversity intelligence that examines questions like these: How does one cope with, respond to, and ultimately, what does one do with life’s inevitable challenges… the capacity to come back again and again to complex problems is the most important temperamental component of adversity intelligence. ” Over time, it’s possible to strengthen our EQ and gradually build our resilience.
We can simulate our response to adversity through our yoga practice and through it, develop an approach, as well as the tools and techniques we need to get through the sensation when it builds. Our practice can act as a microcosm of life: we notice how we experience life on the mat and start to bring our awareness to the little details, how we choose to respond – and then begin to bring this awareness to the choices we make off the mat.There is one pose in particular that can generate a strong response in yogapractitioners and that is Utkatasana, or Chair pose – which literally means ‘intense or fierce pose’. Many of us may resist coming into this posture, as we are aware of the sensation that it can induce in the fronts of the thighs and the strength of mind we need to hold the pose. But by working with the breath, making small adjustments in the body, staying present and observing our reactions without judgement, we can gradually cultivate our ability to move through the pose with more steadiness.
If you would like to try this at home, here are some simple steps for coming into Chair pose:
1. Begin by standing tall in Tadasana, Mountain pose, with the feet parallel, the hips stacking over the knees and the spine long. From here, keep the heels apart but bring your big toes together, so your feet form two sides of a triangle as you look down.
2. Slowly start to bend your knees, keeping the back straight, as though you are sliding your back down a wall. Then bend the knees more deeply, as though you are sitting into a chair. Reach you fingertips down to the floor, keeping the spine long and then lift your arms out in front of you, either parallel with the ground or alongside your ears. Now check if you can see your toes and if you can’t, gently draw your knees back until you do.
3. Draw your abdominal muscles in and up to cultivate support in your core and see if you can open up through your chest as you relax your shoulders, arms stay lifted. Keep lifting the ankles out away from each other as you press the knees together for support.
4. Breathe into your experience.
5. When you’re ready to come out, press down into the feet to slowly rise all the way up to standing, lifting the arms overhead and then release the arms to your sides. Pause to notice how you feel. Finish by shaking out your arms and legs to relax.