Picking up where we left yesterday, my yoga story continues. After I found my at-home yoga practice teacher in Austin, my entire perspective of yoga changed. Saying things like, it changed my life, sounds cheesy and let’s be honest, something out of a novel you buy at rail-stations to read on a holiday and deliberately leave behind at the hotel room. But this yoga actually did just that. The way I looked at things, but mostly myself, whether on or off the mat changed. The first few sessions were simply “cool” and “fun.” But I soon realized that just as my body was changing, so was my mind. The changes were subtle and crept in quietly and steadily. Changing from a weekly practice to a daily practice was a huge step in transformation, mostly in terms of the commitment that one takes to dedicate both time and space to the practice. That, I found, was one of the biggest beauties of at-home practice. There was no travel involved, no time spent waiting at traffic-lights or train stations. No mats to carry around, and if you add the clean clothes to wear after, that can be quite a weight to carry around. Don’t get me wrong here, I believe that going to a physical space and to having a real teacher align you is equally important, especially because you cannot see yourself in a posture and are thus not able to make the adjustments. But, with regular practice you gain such a deep knowledge of your own unique body that at one point only you can know how you need to move and adjust. It only needs an experienced practitioner to give you guidance on the method.
Since the transformation is evolving and will continue to develop, I find myself in an ever-changing mind-structure. And I ask questions, lots of them. All to myself, of course. When I am digging up weeds or potting up tiny seedlings. Moments when I walk through the pine forest, particularly in summer, when the perfume of the pine is the strongest and the sunlight burns and burns the earth to red and yellow dust. I ask questions when I look at the snow-capped distant mountains, vapours rising from the warming coffee mug in my hand. Questions like, what does it mean to be in yoga? We all know, by now, that yoga is not something you do, it is something that you are. What does that mean? To dissolve boundaries, yes, but how? And why does this happen only when I am in a good mood or when I am at peace with myself. Can I apply this in stress or conflict situations? I would say, no to the last one, especially, when I am in the conflict situation. And let’s face it, we all have conflicts and stress and unbalanced parts, definitely more than we would like, but we do. It is a part of what being human means. Maybe better questions to ask would be, is it caused by me? If so, can I change it? If it isn’t, can I let it go? If I am honest with myself, and many times within conflicts, I am not, I hate to think of myself as the responsible party, I don’t want to change anything because of course, my viewpoint is correct. And yes, change is welcome, if the other party implements the change, because I am always right, right? Always? Well, most of the time. Really?
How does doing yoga asanas assist when in conflict? Well, for one, when doing asanas there is simply so much going on within the body and a little bit outside of the physical frame that by the time the adjustments, chanelling of energy, breathing into the posture is all done and the time for quite comes, I am glad to simply be. No thoughts, no goals, and no expectations. Once you start practicing with a heightened awareness, there will be no opportunity to have other thoughts. After that, comes the part I love most. Once I have breathed, adjusted, pulled, pushed, aligned, breathed again, I hold. This is where, for me, the challenge actually begins. While holding and breathing, I ask myself, am I shaking, am I trembling, how am I holding, what is the primary thought, is it when can I leave this posture, if it is, can I hold a little longer, can I breathe into that thought, can I still maintain grace even in this difficult pose, are my muscles sore, where is my breath going, is it okay to try to relax even here and in fact, dare I say, enjoy this moment. This matters, the way the challenging postures are held matters, because that is what will manifest when we are off the mat. The more we can practice grace and equilibrium on the mat the more we can apply it to difficult situations off the mat. This has been one of the biggest, one might call, recognition, that I have received from my practices with my teacher.
There are so many things one can say about the experiences and so many thoughts one can share, but it is also always an individual journey. What holds true for me might not hold true for you. I would however, encourage you to go on your path and see what you can discover. Every path and every life, for that matter, is unique, every story needs to be told and heard. And every journey is varied, just as we are. And that is wonderful.
Yoga. I practice asanas. I practice silence. I practice lying under the stars. I practice loneliness. I see the sky. I see the bees on the flowers. I see the hurt in someone’s eye. I see your name written across the horizon. I hear the rise and fall of the sea. I hear the wind sing on treetops. I hear the birds chirp. I hear lively family chattering. I observe my limbs. I observe my hands, my feet. I observe my eyes. I observe my breath.