I’ve been trying to blog for about a month now. I swear. You should see how many drafts I have sitting here, wanting to be filled out, completed, posted. But I get so far in and then I lose it. Whatever light I was chasing, trying to capture, it disappears.
It occurs to me that it’s not that I’m not feeling creative. In fact, I feel quite creative, but that energy is being invested elsewhere. Ironically, once I admitted and recognized that my energy was elsewhere, I was struck with inspiration for a blog. Where my energy has been channeled lately is into the art that is my yoga. For various reasons, my yoga practice has had to change recently. I fought it at first but recently I have come to embrace it and am now happily exploring something new.
I’ve gone from a daily Ashtanga yoga practice to a gentler, intensely intuitive Hatha practice. In light of recent events in my life, I have realized the importance of slowing down. The benefits of holding still, of breathing, of feeling the present moment. I have experienced the fulfillment of turning mind off and letting body lead body where it wants to go next. Instead of matching breath to the quick movements and upbeat pace of a practice, I let my breath dictate the length of my movement and thus, my pace. The result for me is a long, fluid, graceful movement, felt by body and soul from beginning to end (or should I say, rather, new beginning?).
The importance of spontaneity is number one these days. Even when I am taking a yoga class, I find that I sometimes ignore what the instructor has cued in favor of a hint my body has given me to do something else. Today I tried to return to an Ashtanga practice. Because of the pace of my breath I moved so slowly that, had I finished, I would have been on my mat all day just to get half way through the primary series. And as you may have deduced then, I didn’t finish. One quarter of the way in I heard my body whisper, “That’s plenty. I know what’s coming up and it’s not what I need right now. Please, I invite you to do something else instead.” And so there, one quarter of the way through Primary Series, I stopped. A couple counter-poses to balance myself out and then I carried on with an intuitive, slower practice for a bit. I sometimes read a quote to my yoga students. (I think it’s by Osho, but unfortunately, I can’t currently recall and my efforts at googling it have been in vain…) To paraphrase, the author says that we should never do one thing that goes against our truth or our will. He says if you are walking, and you suddenly lose the desire to walk, then you should sit down right where you are and take not one step further until you wish to do so. (Sounds like an Osho thing to say, doesn’t it?) But this is how my body is in the present moment. It fights restriction, predictability, plans. It wants what it wants and I am happily surrendering to its wishes.
This all has taught me a lesson in non-attachment. I love Ashtanga yoga, and I anticipate that I will return to it on occasion in the future. But I know that I was becoming attached to the progress and not the process- the results and not the effort – to the extent that I injured myself and jeopardized my practice on the whole. It was a lesson I had to learn the hard way. Looking back I can see how attached I was and how willing I was to ignore my body’s true desires.
Now, both on and off my yoga mat, I am appreciating a slower, intuitive pace. Backing off, releasing my ego and pride. Taking my awareness inward again. I often say to my students, “It’s not what you do, but HOW you do what you do that matters on your yoga mat.” That is to say, it’s your intention on your mat that matters, not how “fully” your body may express a posture or how bendy or open you may be. Your body needn’t express the posture, your intention should express the posture.
Finally, I have begun taking my own advice.
I intend to move with grace and compassion; with lightness and fluidity; with devotion and love.
I intend to feel from beginning to new beginning to new beginning…