I believe that we can learn from many places, if we are only willing to listen. Children’s books are often a favorite. Who hasn’t ever wondered if they are Tigger or Eeyore? Which one of us would love to have the simple faith of Winnie the Pooh?
Since I was 15 years old, I have practiced yoga. Many of the lessons I have learned, came from my practice. With yoga there is no goal line, there is only the daily practice. It’s not a competition or a speed race. You simply do. It relaxes my nervous system. I am a rather competitive person generally and I don’t quit easily. If I want something I can at times be too bull-headed to realize when I need to stop. Just like water that rounds out the stones in the river bed, my practice reminds me that my current quest (obsession) isn’t everything. Life is more than being perfect. It’s more than always finishing.
In yoga practice a stretch or a movement is held for a time and during that time many thoughts go through your mind. At that moment we bring our mind back to our stretch. To where our feet are or where our balance is placed. Sometimes in the practice of yoga we have a bittersweet moment. The stretch feels good, but it at the same time can have a bit of pain. I reached a moment like that yesterday. I was thinking about my sons, who are grown. I enjoyed raising them more than anything in the world. There was no other pleasure that I could imagine that would be better than watching them grow up. If you are a parent you know it’s true. There’s the bittersweet part in there that you remember. The early morning feedings, the midnight earache, the bruises, and the skinned knees.
Life has many bittersweet moments. You’re stretching yourself and doing everything you know to do. You’re loving it but you’re also a bit tired. Of course if someone asked you, there’s no way you’d stop. You’re on a mission! No quitting here. You will hold your pose and then as in yoga, you will release.
~There are those bittersweet moments when the stretching feels both pleasurable and painful.~
If you are trying a pose in yoga and your body isn’t as flexible as others, that’s alright. We use “props” for adapting. There are blocks for when you are bending from a stance and your arms don’t quite reach the floor because your hamstrings are tight. You can roll towels to place under your knees or under your neck for support. We use mats that have a slight sticky or tacky feel so our hands or feet don’t slip. You want to remain stable so you can give in fully to the pose or your focus will only be on falling. The purpose of yoga is often misunderstood. It is not only to create a more flexible body. It is about knowing your body and working with your body.
Many years ago my favorite instructor worked with me in a time of crisis. She taught me how much the body knows and how we can do incredible things when we support our bodies. I was lying on my mat, flat on my back in shavasana, also called corpse pose. She noticed that I was having difficulty relaxing. She took a couple of heavy, folded, Mexican blankets and placed them over my chest and stomach area. My body responded immediately. I relaxed, but not only did I relax. I started quietly sobbing. My entire nervous system started releasing pent-up emotions. I’ve never experienced anything like that before and I loved it.
~Life has its own flow~
The point is, the body responds to the information it receives everyday. In yoga we support our bodies. We listen to its urges and we respond to its needs. If a pose is too much today, then we don’t force the pose. We coax it and allow it time to respond. If today we are feeling ill or tired we allow our bodies to decide the amount it can handle.
Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured.
Yes there are times to stretch a little further and to try a little harder. There are those bittersweet moments when the stretching feels both pleasurable and painful. There is also a time to release. Rest is as important as work.
~We will not all rule~
The one thing that I have the most difficulty remembering is my breath. I forget to breathe in and out. If you hold your breath, your energy cannot flow. Your movements will be stiff and brittle. We need to breathe in while we are stretching and breathe out as we release. Life has its own flow. Its breath is as real as our breath and we can become just as aware of it. Sometimes we hold our breath in life. We are out of sync with what is going on around us. Out of step with the dance.
When I am shaky in a pose, I remember to breathe. I check my pose. I feel my pose with all of my body. If the holding is causing me pain, I release to an easier level of the pose and hold that just as diligently as I would have held a more difficult pose. We are not all to be presidents or CEO’s of large corporations. We will not all rule over anyone. Many of us are teachers, doctors, nurses, or organizers. We all have our positions, our poses to hold. If you are in a high post and it becomes too painful, it is not shameful to release to an easier post. If you are needing more of a challenge then it’s fine to push yourself a bit more. Just remember that there is no pride or gloating in holding a more difficult pose. If something is too painful, release and ease up. If you are needing more of a challenge allow yourself the extra nudge.
~I must let life cycle~
The truths I’ve learned in yoga are the give and the take, the ebb and the flow. The inhalation and the exhalation are always there. I cannot hold any stage of my life. This too shall pass applies to the pleasant as well as the unpleasant. I must let life cycle.
As in yoga, so in life – Namaste.