Wednesday, March 21, 2012

I can't do Yoga.

I can't do yoga. I'm not flexible enough. I'm too old. I'm too fat. I don't have the clothes. I don't have a mat. I don't have the money. I don't have the time.

You do. You aren't. You can do yoga.

If you can breathe, you can do yoga. Yoga means to yoke. I think of it as knitting the bones and flesh to the spirit and the mind. Yoga creates a union within ourselves and with the universe. It is easier to experience and feel than to explain, but it is worth explaining to those who are interested but unsure.

Focusing on your breath draws your attention to your body. Hm, what is that tight hip muscle? Oh, that shoulder stretch feels so good. I haven't taken a deep breath all week. This is the only hour I have to myself today.

Focusing on you creates a nurturing self care and self love place. It is only from that place that we can help others. Inhale. Exhale. So simple and so hard. Moving our bodies while focusing on our breath and ourselves allows us to recognize things within. Deal with our crap. Breathe and let it go, slowly work on it or move to the next mental challenge.

We do this work on our mat - we flow - so that we can flow within the world off the mat.

If you can breathe, you can do yoga. Yoga is about union and intention. Focus and breathe while sitting and you're doing yoga. The first step is easy - just try it - the rest is hard but you choose it. You can choose how hard you work and how deep you dig. Yoga is a choose your own adventure book. You can even flip back and choose a different route. All paths go somewhere.

You certainly can do yoga. Try a donation based studio like Just B Yoga, free or $5 classes at a studio like Hilltop Yoga or Yoga State or any other studio that looks appealing to you. Develop a home practice and go to a class less often to save $ and to dig deeper on your own.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Stay and breathe vs. running as fast as you can

I'm afraid there will be no sleep tonight until I articulate at least one of the thoughts floating through my mind. Tomorrow marks the beginning of the last weekend of 200 hour yoga teacher training at Hilltop Yoga. This end is only the beginning. I am going on to do 300 hours of teacher training at that studio, teach free and $5 classes there, and I hope and desire to teach elsewhere in Lansing. There is something deep inside of me that recognizes this practice and this need to teach  and that piece feels complete and comfortable being in it. That something needs to learn to override my mind and words more often. I'm working on it by not working on it.

One thing, out of many, that I have realized in the past eight weeks is just how often in my life I have chosen to run as fast as I can rather than hold still and breathe and be in an uncomfortable space.

Yes, holding utkatasana, chair pose, a little longer, a little deeper and with less muscles straining is a tough thing to do...but it is oh so worth it for the release, the uttanasana, the forward fold at the end. Life seems to be like that. Hold on in the uncomfortable spaces. Stay on the bucking bronco. Ride the wind. Keep climbing that mountain. The rewards at the end are immeasurable. The satisfaction of knowing you gently but firmly navigated yourself through trecherous waters is far greater than letting it all go and never trying at all.

In our fast paced corporate American lifestyles, it is oh so easy to keep going, going, going. Work on this, finish that, get this next big thing. Noise, noise, noise. More, more, more.

Like the Energizer Bunny, we keep beating that drum and marching in circles. Going, going, going. But where are we going TO? Where are we getting ourselves? Hold still. Be where you are. Sit in it. Deal with what is on your plate first, before you ask for more. All things that sage and beautiful teachers, within me and without, have taught me. I'm learning, even if I'm slow to hold onto this lesson.

Coming into pigeon pose, eka pada raja kapotasana, can at first be very difficult. It might always be very challenging. When I first came into that pose, I could not get my elbows to bend, much less think about getting my chest onto my leg and my forehead to the ground. Breathing into that space, melting away that tension and fight and all other manner of unnecessary garbage, allows us to find a comfortable seat in that posture. Sitting in it and working through it is the only way out.

To get to that other side, it is necessary to first walk through. Take a flash light, take a guide book, take a friend...but stay with the challenge and navigate through it. Choose to stay and breathe.