What gets me excited? Cheesecake, yes, but I mean as a yoga teacher?! When someone comes up to me and says: well. I would like to do yoga but I can’t because…………..(you fill in any reason). Immediately my mind begins to work to come up with ways that person can do yoga and come to class. And now here I am lamenting to my friends, to myself that I CAN’T DO ANYTHING ?! Hmmmm, after some reflection brought on by my friends suggestions ( I love you guys) I had to admit to myself that that statement was/ is just not true.
The other day, for instance, as I am in acupuncture and couldn’t fall asleep I visualized myself doing my asana practice. Slowly, lovingly I watched myself in my mind's eye “scooping prana”, going into different flows in my mind, my arms working with ease (they do not at this time), claiming my space fully, breathing in and breathing out. Doing Ujjayi Breath (one of my favorite pranayama techniques), noticing the energy shifting in my body. It was wonderful, but I didn’t give it any credit at the time. So when my friends called me out on my “lie”, that I couldn’t do anything, I remembered it. Yes yes, but THAT wasn’t a real practice, right?! I mean a real practice is physical, is it not?! The teacher in me of course knows that YES, damn right it is a REAL practice, but my ego self was not convinced. She needs a lot of love and compassion you see, I know this about her but yet bully her a lot. I don’t mean too, it just happens because of years of conditioning. Then when I sit in meditation and can see clearly I make promises to do better. Until the next time. Usually when things are smooth it’s easy, but throw in a pandemic or surgery and it’s a whole new ball game.
Anyway, but my new mantra is: What would I tell my students?
So of course I would tell my student how wonderful it is that she is doing pranayama and asana in her mind, that the mind is powerful, to stay with it and all will be coming…….
For a couple of days the love and compassion worked then the negative self talk increased again (maybe fueled by social media posts I’ve seen?). You are not doing enough physically, you are not on the mat long enough, yadayadayada…… And words from my teacher Judith Hanson Lasater came to mind: Your yoga is too small. Meaning I am limiting my yoga practice to the mat, the asana practice. When we all know that everything, all of it is your practice. Finding moments of awareness in your day, moments where you are holding your breath or having a falling out breath.
Moments where you catch yourself clenching your jaw and you start opening your mouth or chanting to release that tension. On laundry day where you have 3 loads because of surgery and finally you have the strength to stand and fold all of it and put it away, on that day that is your asana practice. Or your favorite song comes on and you either sing along loudly, joyfully or do a little dance in your chair (or in your mind) and on really good days you might even stand up and dance a little. But the most important part is to let go of all expectations of what your practice is supposed to look like that day. Because it is different every day and the only way to know that if you show up and practice in any shape or form that’s available to you. What is your intention for your practice? That’s the important part.
When I am teaching a Training I always will share this (for a moment I had just forgotten, was unaware---how human of me ).
2:46 Sthira Sukham Asanam – The seat of the yogi is steady and joyful.
This is sutra 2.46, and is most commonly translated, “posture (asana) [should be] stable (sthira) and comfortable (sukha),” but is more literally translated as “resolutely abide in a good space.” Becoming established in “good space,” however, is only possible when our prana is healthy. And cultivating healthy prana is a process that extends beyond the edge of our yoga mat into every aspect of our daily lives. When we start infusing our lifestyle, diet, and relationships with sthira and sukha, we pave the way for a life of balance and spiritual insight.
Let’s begin by taking a closer look at the sutra. The first term, sthira, can mean “firm, compact, strong, steadfast, static, resolute, and courageous”; etymologically it arises from the root stha, which means “to stand, to be firm, to take a stand.”
Sukha means “happy, good, joyful, delightful, easy, agreeable, gentle, mild, and virtuous.” The literal meaning is “good space,” from the root words su (good) and kha (space). The term originally described the kind of smooth ride one would experience in a cart or a chariot whose axle holes were well centered in the wheels. This image implies that the production of sukha is a dynamic process.
The last word, asana, stems from the root as, which suggests “the act of sitting down, abiding, dwelling, inhabiting, being present.” The emphasis here is being grounded in and committed to whatever you are doing when you are doing it.
Because Patanjali’s primary interest was in developing meditative absorption (samadhi), this sutra originally referred to the quality of a practitioner’s meditation pose, or seated posture. However, many modern yoga teachers now apply it to all the postures. While it is true that achieving steadiness and ease in a posture is the basis of a sound approach to asana practice, this sutra is also the source of valuable guidance for living in rhythm with our prana. Cultivating sthira and sukha as we move through the days and seasons of our lives establishes a foundation for fully realizing our spiritual aspirations, for accomplishing our worldly goals, and for weathering the inevitable changes and difficulties that come our way.
I will keep you posted about my journey back, keep in mind I am not a writer. I am just sharing my journey with you.
May I live this day...
Compassionate of heart,
Gentle in word,
Gracious in awareness,
Courageous in thought and
Generous in love