Words of Wisdom:
Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured. ~B.K.S. Iyengar
Thoughts for May:
Can you remember your very first yoga class? How you felt leading up to the class? How you felt during the class? And probably, most importantly, how you felt after leaving the class?
My very first yoga class taken was in April of 2004, a Bikram Yoga class. A friend of mine ultimately convinced me to go. I’m still not sure what made me agree to it, as her description of the class wasn’t very appealing. When I asked her to tell me what I could expect, I can remember her saying, “We’ll be doing a variety different yoga postures for 90 minutes, in a room that’s heated to 105 degrees.” Well, that’s enough to scare any yoga novice away.
I can remember feeling nervous leading up to the class, wondering, “What if I pass out from the heat?” I can remember feeling clumsy, clueless, and frustrated during the class, as I watched experienced practitioners around me twist and contort their bodies into positions that seemed virtually impossible to ever achieve.
But, something magical happened for me after that first class.
I returned home with an immense feeling of peace, calm, and serenity. I can best describe it as the feeling you get after spending time at a spa and receiving a really great full-body massage. My mind felt clear, my body felt cleansed, and for the first time in as long as I can remember, I didn’t feel stressed or heavy. I felt light…light on my feet and light in my heart.
You may have had a similar introduction to yoga as I had. Perhaps you didn’t really know what you were getting yourself into, but decided to give it a shot anyway. Maybe a friend invited you to a class, or maybe you heard about the great benefits that yoga has on the body and mind, or maybe you were just looking for something different to try out. There are many ways in which you can come to find yoga, but the important thing is that you discovered it.
What initially brought you to your mat is often very different from what you find there. For many of us, we knew after our first taste of yoga that we may had stumbled upon something much deeper and richer than our original intentions. We found that the mat is like a mirror, which reflects back who we are. The mat shows you what you are willing to expose of yourself.
What I believe is special about this relationship is that through your breath, movement, and yoga poses…you create a personal, intimate, and safe space for this reflection. Here, your focus, honesty, and vulnerability are heightened. This is where every part of yourself that you expose can be learned from, and finally be accepted or rejected. This in return allows for small changes to occur.
I had this experience particularly with crow pose. For the longest time, I was very fearful of this posture. My story was, “You are going to fall and hurt yourself.” So, for the longest time, this story created resistance around the pose for me.
When demonstrating it in class or practicing it in my own practice, I always did so with trepidation and fear on the inside. Then, one day, in my Baptiste Level Two Training, Paige Elenson (who led my Level Two Training), told everyone to get into crow pose and that once they had it for even a split second to declare out-loud, “I got it.”
I don’t know what it was about that moment in particular (maybe it was the electrifying energy of 100+ yogis doing crow right along with me that eased my fear), but I just went for it! I went for it and I held it for a good 5-10 seconds. I declared out loud at the top of my lungs, “I got it,” and it remains to this day one of the most powerful breakthroughs ever in my yoga journey.
I’ll never forget how good and freeing dropping resistance felt in that moment. When I reflected back on that moment, I realized that I had crow pose all along. It was my story of falling and essentially of “failing” that was holding me back from it. But, the pose itself was there for me all along. I learned through this experience that I have a fear around failing and letting myself and others down. From that space and acknowledgement, I am now able to make changes around this fear.
It’s amazing what our yoga practice teaches us and reveals to us about ourselves.
As you continue with your practice and get further along in your journey, you become more in touch with yourself and hopefully more honest with yourself as well. The parts of yourself that you reflect on should build empathy with those around you.
The acceptance or rejection of what you find should build forgiveness and compassion for others, as well as yourself. Knowing that there needs to be changes in who you are should be humbling. You become more truthful and loving through the practice, which is a difficult balance to achieve. These are qualities that as with most things in life, are an extension or outflow of who you truly believe yourself to be.
This process of finding the balance between truth and love isn’t easy. I think we can only get better at it, but it’s not something we can perfect. There is always room for learning, refinement, and growth. And that’s the beauty of the practice, both on and off the mat.
Love & light,
About the Image:
Marina Mukandala, is featured in this newsletter issue in Crow pose (Bakasana). The benefits of Bakasana are as follows:
- Improves the strength of your overall upper body
- Tones your abdominal organs, which assists with indigestion and lower back pains
- The muscles of your forearms, wrists and fingers are given a proper stretch, which is great for carpal tunnel syndrome or the discomfort of long commutes in your car