I experienced quite a bit this weekend and have quite a bit to say. So pardon the wordiness. If you know me, you know that doesn’t always happen. Nonetheless, I am honored to have so many of you reading and following my blog. I enjoy sharing these moments with you. But as I don’t always agree or like something someone else says, it is perfectly fine with me if you take what you want from here and bag what you don’t. It’s all good. I’m just happy to have you all with me on this journey, sharing the love.
After this 3rd weekend of yoga teacher training, I am full of yoga soul and ready to share. There definitely exists a yoga high that I love to reach. 2 full days of yummy yoga goodness gives me lots of soul! Let’s ride it out! And being that it’s Sunday, it will most likely last through my Monday, which is awesome! I’m learning my life is soul-driven. You got soul, I’ll follow! I think that’s much of what’s missing from our lives and the issues surrounding us today. Where is the soul? Have we forgotten the soul? What is your soul telling you? Are you moving in the direction of your soul? Can you see the soul in another human, or another species even? Can you see the soul in the world surrounding you? It can be very difficult at times, especially when someone or something is pissing you off. But I know for me, if I venture far from that path – where my soul is wanting to go – something starts to go askew.
We start every weekend with what is called Sharing Circle, fanning our yoga mats out in one big circle and sharing what’s happened since our last meeting. I tell you, this is hard for me. I can write these words and post these entries for all who care to read, but put me in a circle of my peers and ask me to talk about myself… and I clam up. I don’t have a clue what to say. So much and yet not much has happened. Perhaps it’s my inability to openly share with others right in front of me. Perhaps it’s because I’m more private than I thought. Perhaps it’s because I’m more interested in hearing about everyone else that I don’t give what I’ve done much thought. Perhaps it’s all of that with a whole lot else. But regardless of what it is, it’s getting easier. Realizing we’re all in the same boat – we all love yoga and are open to wherever it takes us and whomever it makes us. And just being acquainted with these special souls is inspiring and a gift in itself.
There seemed to be a theme running through this weekend for me. Asteya. One of the philosophies of yoga for relationships between the individual and the outside world to help reduce complications and suffering. Asteya is resisting the desire to take what is not ours. We all know how this can be applied off the mat, but on the mat can be quite different. It can be something as simple as someone “stealing” your time, energy, or concentration. And during our first power class yesterday morning, just that happened.
There was a big, burly dude in class…before you start judging, I’m all for guys doing yoga. I think it’s great. They bring a different and unique chi, or qi, to the room. But a lot of them come in thinking, “This is going to be a piece of cake!” and are quickly humbled. It’s not all soft-lights and chanting. But nonetheless, this guy was doing good. You could tell he had been to several yoga classes before. However, his breathing sounded like he was in a gym lifting, I don’t know, A LOT… what’s a lot? I don’t know. I don’t go to gyms. Anyway, it sounded like he was seriously about to hyperventilate at any moment during the entire hour and a half class. This dude was stealing my energy and concentration. And I knew I needed to practice ahimsa, another yoga philosophy of kindness, thoughtfulness, and consideration, and realize that’s just the way he breathes during yoga. But geez, was it distracting! I love hearing others use their ujjayi breath. But this wasn’t ujjayi breathing. This was…”Oh my god, this is hard, but I have to do it so BREATHE.” My advice, and what we’re taught to tell you as teachers, is if it gets this tough for you, take it down a notch. Rest does not equate weakness. Listen to your body and let yourself off the hook for a bit. Believe me, you’ll feel it tomorrow if you don’t. And why risk injuring yourself? Comparing myself with others on the mat is one of the things I had to, and still have to, try to avoid. It’s your practice. Take it where you want and how far you desire. No judgement. Close your eyes, if you have to. Not only will you focus only on what you’re feeling but you’ll learn to balance and know where your body is in space without influence from the outside world. Breath control takes years of practice. I’m still trying to find it at times. There are times when I forget to breathe. Getting into postures is easy (mostly). The body stays. But breath is fluid. It flows. It’s difficult to isolate it and focus on it while doing something else.
And not everyone is going to do asanas (postures) the same way. All of us have different skeletal and muscular make-ups – some have long arms, some have long legs, some have long torsos, some have shorter torsos. Let go of the expectation to fit into a mold or look exactly like a picture of a certain pose or posture. And not only are each of our bodies different, but our personal bodies are different from one side to the next. You may find you’re more flexible on one side or stronger on one side. Honor that and listen to what your body is telling you. As long as you maintain proper alignment, take it to the deepest/fullest expression you desire. But let yourself off the hook for perfection. I know I have to. I SO want to always get my leg higher or bend further, but some days it just doesn’t happen. And it’s okay. You’re on the mat. You’re in good company. Yoga gives you the opportunity to see yourself in moments of imperfection. And once you see it, you’re given a choice of what to do with that information.
My second experience with asteya was this morning at Lululemon. I love Lululemon. Every Sunday morning at 9:30, they offer free yoga to whomever wants to roll-out. Our instructor was the guest instructor today, so we got to take a field trip! It’s funny, we’ve joked a few times about yoga and parties. For a lot of people, their first encounter with yoga is at a party. Some person (including yours truly) has too much to drink and thinks it brilliant to show-off some yoga moves. Fyi… friends don’t let friends do yoga drunk. Just sayin’. Back to Lululemon… it’s awesome they bring free yoga to those who want to try it without having to pay for it. So I rolled-out and ended up next to a girl who had some negative stuff going on. Her comments, facial expressions, and general energy were all yuk. I wanted to move my mat, but the room was already jam-packed. There was no where to go. I know we all have crap in our lives. But if you practice some asteya and try to “leave it at the door”, you won’t tarnish someone’s chi with negativity. I’ve brought a ton of crap to my mat over the years, so I know how difficult it is to leave it at the door at times. But if you can, try. It will be worth it. And you will be more open to accept the energy and love that surrounds you during that hour or so on your mat. You’ll also leave fuller and stronger to return and handle whatever needs handling. I must say, though, that when ending in shavasana, our fingers touched for a second by accident, being that the room was so full, and I no longer felt that negativity that was present at the beginning. Either she was able to let it go or I found some ahimsa. Either way, we both left a little fuller – more soulful.
And so I reach the end of my lovely yoga weekend. Time to rest the body and revel in the soul. Soulshine is better than sunshine, is better than moonshine, and damn sure better than rain… Rest and repeat.
Om shanti, my friends. Namaste.