There are so many things that I have been musing on lately so I will do my best to catch up here and share them. Today, though, I wanted to share something immediate and fresh.
This morning I was blessed enough to be able to step away from the chaos of the week by stepping onto the mat with the community at Mulananda Yoga. I’ve been taking classes there since late in the spring and and love the space, the instruction and the other students. Not only am I challenged through poses on the mat, but I am centered through the attentive meditation and chanting at the beginning of class.
This morning, Alicia (our teacher) challenged us to focus our practice on impermanence. Certainly, the notion that nothing in this life is forever can be disconcerting. When things are great, we want them to last. But when things are bad, we can take refuge in the notion that this too shall pass. I believe what she was really asking us to do was remember that in the beautiful moments of life, to savor each second, and, in those not so beautiful times, to remember that things will change, develop and we will not forever be burdened by the pain, discomfort or hurdles that face us in those moments.
How do we do this? How do we let go and accept the impermanence of life and of the challenges we face?
I am certain that the only permanent thing in this life and the next is God. So accepting that reality and the notion of impermanence means placing my faith in a loving, forever God that guides, challenges and comforts me — whether I am in yoga class or facing difficult times personally.
For now, I am also learning to trust in my body, particularly on the mat. In a class like today’s heavily based on flow, I don’t often face asanas that make me pause and wonder if I’m going to fall flat on my face. Alicia included a number of chair poses, a thigh-exhausting pose that many yogis despise. My least favorite is by far triangle pose (or any variation on triangle). I’m always tempted to move out of the posture to adjust something, my hips, my shoulders, to “make sure” my torso is elongated while rotating rather than crunching in the twist.
Today, we did revolved triangle. For me, this is one of the worst postures ever available on the mat. I want to run and hide. I didn’t however, I stuck with it. After all, the pose wasn’t going to last forever.
But triangle pose doesn’t scare me. It doesn’t challenge me to put faith in my body. That was what happened after class.
As we were rolling up our mats and talking, Alicia reminded us that tomorrow Mulananda has a Level 3 class. Level 3 scares me. Level 3 makes me feel weak just thinking about it. Level 3 requires things like being able to straighten your legs in wheel pose. It means lots of inversions and arm balances. About the most complicated arm balance I can (barely) do at this point is crane pose and typically I bruise my arms from digging my knees into the wrong spot when I practice it.
My friend and amazing yogi, Chelsea, has been telling me that I should go for months and I always come up with a reason to skip it. I’m too full from lunch after church. I need to work editing this fisheries report. I have to feed my cat/wash my hair/begin cooking an elaborate dinner that will take all afternoon.
This time, when Alicia brought up the class I decided to ask:
Me: So if I attend the class and I’m not strong enough for some of the poses, may I skip those ones?
Alicia: Of course. Plus, you’ll learn the steps that will help you get stronger and prepare you for the more complicated poses. Can you do a handstand?
Me: I’ve never tried.
Alicia: Want to now?
So I did. I didn’t exactly make it all the way up into the handstand against the wall, but I started the process of learning to feel what it is like to push my body a little further than it is comfortable going. I also learned that I have to have a little faith in myself.
I’ve been practicing yoga, thanks to my mother, since I was about 14. I haven’t always practiced consistently, but I always end up in the same place — back on the mat. I’ve learned to trust myself in crane, balancing on my wimpy little wrists that look like they belong to a 12-year-old girl. Now it is time to trust myself a little more.
So this is it. I’m going to this class on Sunday (tomorrow) and I’m going to trust my body. After all, nothing is permanent in this physical life. I can, at least for now, trust my bones, my muscles, my tendons and my teachers to take me to the next level in my practice. Maybe I’ll not only learn how to do a handstand, but to stand up to the challenges that I face off the mat.
What scares you (on the mat or in life)?
Namaste and may God bless you. 🙂