Yoga has had a presence in my life for over 10 years. But has it really? We often hear about personal discoveries or ‘a-ha’ moments on the yoga mat, but it wasn’t until about a year ago that I had my first real ‘a-ha!’ situation during a class. In hindsight it was under funny circumstances though, as I was actually quite hung over when this moment of realisation popped up. I don’t know about you, but Sunday morning classes with Kelly last year had become my 1 class a week ritual. A page turner setting me up for the coming week, even waking up with a hangover wasn’t going to stand in the way of me attending.
So there I found myself soldiering through it, a shipwreck trying not to breathe over the people next to me. My headache was going to new heights with every sun salute and I felt like it couldn’t get much worse when we began our set up to do Half Moon pose. Although I was familiar with it, this posture was always a bit dicey for me at the best of times. Often checking out and foreseeing the inventible fight I would have over my teetering body; rigidly trying to maintain control (and my breath) before giving up and letting the posture topple away from my grasp. I would come out of the pose the same way I went into it.
My predetermined expectations of this posture and my predictable mind/body reaction came up again but this time it was different. As I was preparing to manhandle my body to overcome my lack of balance I heard the instructor’s voice asking us to RELAX…. and ENJOY our breath on arriving in the posture. Maybe in my compromised hung-over state this presented a far more agreeable approach. What? Just enjoy my breath and relax? Yes please. I listened.
Translating this information I let myself breathe, cycling it over a few times before letting my body follow and the posture kick into place. Miraculously I found I could relax by continuing to focus on my breath; I was balanced but doing so without any sort of fixed rigidity. I actually found with each breath I opened more, briefly glimpsing that harmonious feeling of radiating energy out in all directions. It was a joyful moment for me and my mind actually went ‘A-HA!’ – I Got It!
Yoga has had a presence in my life for over 10 years. But has it really? Instead I should be asking have I been present in my yoga practise? The on-going temptation to force my body along when doing this posture (and many other balancing postures I might add), means that this ‘a-ha’ moment is accompanied by a disclaimer: These moments will continue to happen for me but ONLY when I stop and listen. CHECK IN first not out. Not only to my body but also to the guidance and gentle reminders offered in the collective class environment.
In doing so we can better notice the internal thoughts that run along ahead of us trying to set us up for failure, but let them pass rather than prevail. Even with the most familiar yoga postures or the habit forming routines we build into our everyday lives, whereby we stop and listen first we can then take on new perspectives and discover fresh approaches to embrace situations and move forward in confidence.