I’m sitting outside in the NYC sun. The Flatiron district is bustling with tourists and New Yorkers soaking up the last drops of summer along with cold coffee drinks.
An inversion workshop is happening in an hour. I’m not sure why I’m feeling my nerves go all a flutter. It’s a beginner workshop and after consulting not one but three other teachers about it- I’m sure it will be a blast.
Maybe it’s my horoscope- I know there may be some snickering, but whenever I read it, I’m able to make some connection to my life- which is the point I guess.
Anyway it says that life is changing and I should go with it. Not really- but that’s the gist or at least what I’m taking from it. New shapes and all that. How will I see the world differently when I’m on my head?
Can you imagine the gaping mouths when the Flatiron was going up?
How much changed because of it?
Off to fly and see new things.
I don’t love practicing in the morning. This means of course that I learn big lessons. I think this is what happens when you don’t move mindfully or meet life with resistance.
During the commuter crush hour people move faster that they need to. I can’t help but wonder if it’s really being in a rush?
Ego disguised as I’m so busy feels more honest.
An older woman was slowly walking down the steps. Her cane was wobbly but she was steady. A guy next to me kept trying to move past her. As I retell the story I want to use an adjective describe his actions and movements but that would really only be my perception of what I thought he was doing and not what he was actually doing.
I was slightly annoyed. Okay I was very annoyed. Annoyed because I was frustrated at breaking my flow and having to slow down. So it made sense to transfer that feeling than to acknowledge it in myself.
Self-awareness is a bitch, yo.
As I consciously turned on being mindful, the more annoyed I became with my walk to the studio.
No one seemed to be paying attention to anything. A guy on a bike screamed at a cab driver. A woman rolled her eyes at a mom pushing a stroller in the middle of the sidewalk.
And everyone turned to glare at the tourists in the middle of the street.
I exhale at the studio and see one of my favorite teachers! Phew.
But she’s taking class, not teaching.
Shit. I can’t win for losing at it’s not even noon.
B, a teacher I’ve only had once before focused on slowing down every movement.
At the very start of class this started.
I wish I could make this stuff up.
As I looked up at the ceiling I said to myself, ‘Okay Universe I get it. Slow down. You made your point. Can we move on now and get to the next thing?’
And so the rest of class went.
Time didn’t just slow, it stopped.
It was one of the most thorough classes I have ever taken.
And with good reason.
I realize every day that I know less and less.
With eyes and judgement looking out instead of in, I’m part of the problem and not the solution.
Eyes open, heart open.
I had this plan that I would smoothly transition from my old place to my new place.
Ha. Cue raucous laugh track.
My move was more than just a new place to sleep. It was symbolic of a new life. Though I’ve been teaching yoga and working on a business plan to be a yoga entrepreneur, the new home would make it official.
At least it would feel that way. I began this blog to document my new start, and this relocation seemed like just that.
In my head everything was timed like clockwork. The movers would come- I’d cheerfully direct them! They’d laugh. I’d laugh- we’d do a few yoga moves in my empty living room. After namastes all around they would declare that this was the most tranquil move they ever did.
Ah- but life had other plans. It was a mess.
A bloody diasaster. And not in a cute British accent way. I’m talking real f@cking horror show. At least it felt like that in the moment. I could hear people screaming out like the aliens had arrived. Flames were shooting up from manholes, the masses were running for cover declaring that this was indeed the end of the world.
Well, that’s what it felt like.
The whole delay was a few hours. It felt much longer, mostly because of me and the gravity I gave the situation.
We all do that I guess, make things more important than they are. A minor impasse is distorted to mountain-sized road block.
This happens with poses. A point of resistance becomes a place where push happens. A more effective response is to breathe. This allows for release. I can feel it now even as I type- I feel a space where it seems like I can’t get deeper and after a few deep breathes my entire body falls into place.
On my mat I know this is how it works.
Off my mat, I need reminders.
I didn’t deal as effectively as I would have liked.
As I watched my things file out of the old space, I was happy.
After every storm the sun comes out. Nothing is forever. This too shall pass etc… etc..
More importantly though, I realize now that nothing is that critical. Because in comparison with the age of the universe, we are only here for a second.
And I, just like the stress that seemed so finite and so lasting is temporary.
My next part of the chapter awaits.
I talk a lot about the idea of letting go.
And the truth is I really mean what I say, but saying it over and over again can sound at best repetitive and at worst, disingenuous.
It got me to thinking- what do I really mean when I say let go? Do I mean that or am I trying to say something else?
At first, I think I meant letting go of control.
Last week, I found my deepest expression of ustrasana.
Oddly enough it was on a day that I didn’t feel particularly inspired to practice. In fact, I had to really slap myself around to get motivated.
I had spent a few days out of town and was beat. Every step toward the studio made me feel more put out than the previous one. I was rolling my eyes at myself (useless really…who loses when that happens? Silly rabbit) as I swiped my card to get on the train.
With headphones on and Esthero blaring the two sides of myself battled.
Can’t move on
But I can’t go home
And I’m not so strong
But I make my way
To the place I know
Inside my heart
Where I used to go
To get brave and
I don’t wanna be lost anymore
Hurumph. I’m tired. (Just shut up and go to class. You’ll be so happy when you get there)
Who needs class? Not me. (Yes you do, when you don’t want to go is when you most need your mat)
Alas, the smarter side of me won. I got to class.
When I sat on my mat in the darkness I realized I had no fight in me. Maybe it was being tired from travel. Maybe it was lack of sleep. But I was able to turn myself over to my practice.
It was in a word, magnificent.
And while I found my new expression of ustrasana, I was more elated about my discovery.
It’s not about control. It’s about trust.
I surrendered my body and breath to the pose. I didn’t let go with a ‘what if’ I can’t do it. With my chest lifted and hips moving slightly forward I bent backwards. There was no worry about whether I could. There wasn’t baggage about the last time I tried. Maybe it was because my brain was fried I wasn’t screwing around in my head.
There is a difference between letting go and complete surrender. Well there is for me.
The act of letting go doesn’t implies trust but doesn’t require it.
I can let go and stay in my skeptical shoes, but when I surrender it means that I’m turning myself over.
And that’s where trust comes in.
I’ll just say it- this is a big deal for me. The whys of this story aren’t as interesting as the now.
Yoga builds trust. It builds trust between your body and breath. Each complimenting each other working in unison to create harmony.
Yoga builds trust between me and the world. With a better breath my heart expands and with that I let more and more in.
This is yoga, and I surrender.
It seems like when you get down to it when we’ve lost our peace we should go look in ego’s backyard. It’s sure to be lounging under a tree with an overfed belly and head full of worry.
A few days ago I read a great post, 3 Things Yoga Students Need to Stop Saying.
My favorite was #3- saying I’m sorry.
Students apologize. Despite constant conversations about non judgement, students (and teachers) can get caught up in ‘I’m sorry’. Which is really saying I’m not enough, I’m not worthy. Put one more way it’s all about ego.
And it’s hard not to judge sometimes. I must remind students (and myself) not to do someone else’s practice. For as many reasons as we come to our mats, we have as many different practices.
Trying to match someone else’s outside won’t mesh with your inside.
“The greatest step towards a life of simplicity is to learn to let go.”
― Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free
“Necessity is a Mutha”
– A. Mays
These words of wisdom were spoken to me yesterday. Chatting with Dad Dude (that’s how he shows up in my phone) I mentioned that necessity was the mother of intention. I thought I was so clever. Ever the wordsmith.
Without missing a beat he says, “Necessity is a mutha”.
Gotta be quick in the Mays family. Quips are flipped, stripped and dipped.
Yet, there’s always a point to be made. Alas, I will get to mine.
A few weeks back I mentioned that I had been holding on a bit tightly to my practice.
Wait. That’s not quite right.
I actually talked about my issues with over correcting my own practice.
Accuracy. Sigh. It’s not always important but in this case, it’s necessary.
Because I am me, I obsessed about this. I focused on trying to have fun.
Who does that? Who has to focus on fun?
Me apparently…And not successfully.
While I stopped adjusting myself every five seconds, I wasn’t relaxed.
The 10am class was a bunch of regulars. There was lots of room (in a NYC yoga studio, this is a glorious luxury) and the vibe was focused but somehow chill. With one of my favorite teachers leading and me feeling mellow, I set an intention to let go of the stuff I didn’t need. Necessity isn’t just the mother of invention. Sometimes we get to a point when when the only choice left is the best one.
I let go. Relaxed. Breathed. Exhaled. Shook it loose. Set it free. Put it down.
You feel me?
It wasn’t about fun. I was too caught up. I do that. It’s dangerous. It’s why I started yoga in the first place.
Eventually we come full circle, back to the place we started. And (if we are smarter) we do what makes sense.
As I started to move I got out of my head and into my yoga.
I could feel it.
I could see it.
I could be it.
It felt so good.
It felt like home.
This is yoga and you can always come home again.