kitchen sink post
I was inspired to write after a class one day. it's a bit of everything I think. Enjoy some stream of consciousness! Let me know what you think:
I attended a gorgeous Asana practice this morning led by a teacher I very much look up to, Ali of AliSunYoga. The poses were interesting and her words kept me learning and focused. Not too focused for my own good though, apparently, because as she said to imagine my lungs as balloons, I heard the sound of them squeaking obnoxiously as they rubbed on each other and on my ribs as they expanded, then I heard that flappy farting noise that balloons make when you let them go as I “exhaled”! LOL! I may have giggled out loud.
There were a few other moments of smiles and laughter but they didn’t stick in my mind like that one did. As a teacher myself, I’m constantly struggling to stop taking notes and just enjoy the class for myself. I tell myself that that actually is the best way to absorb this practice. Feeling into it -- “oh, yeah, that’s what that does for my leg and back...” Rather than, “I gotta remember to do this with my class on Monday! Oh dang, how am I going to remember all of this? I should really bring a notebook, I wonder if I could go get my notebook real quick... no no no, stay here, breathe... ooh wait, I want to remember this too!! arg!” This is torturous and the opposite of what I come to yoga for, so I’ve settled on a compromise. I try to remember one thing, one pose, that I want to add into my teaching. I pick the very first one that brings that thought up, put a bookmark in my brain, and then I sink into class and enjoy the rest with as little concious thought as possible. Today I loved trying down dog arms in pyramid pose. It reminded me of doing down dog arms on the diagonal with Warrior 2 legs in another class, and I think... “I’d like to combine those two into a class somehow. Is it a shoulders class! or a legs class? To be continued...come back to this class now...” Asana class, as with all things meditative, the mind wanders and I bring it back.
I loved that pose, but I also loved what she spoke about. The philosophy she gently integrated tied my mind and spirit to my body. This is truly why I seek out certain teachers, and Ali really speaks to my soul in her classes.
But let’s back up a little. I was talking to a friend recently. This friend does not do yoga nor is she involved in spiritual practice as far as I know. She might be, we jsut haven’t talked about it yet. We’re new friends. She was telling me about how she doesn’t meditate because she has a hard time shutting her brain off. I told her that that is hard for everyone and that I didn’t really think anyone could shut off thier brainss off, but rather that the benefit is in sitting still in order to observe yourself. Observe your thoughts and even as the thoughts keep going, to step back a bit, and realize that you have thoughts, but that you are not your thoughts.
As a meme, “you are not your thoughts” really resonated with me when I first heard it. It seems so simple and clear, such a nice encapuslation of this concept. I saw in my friends face however, “wait, what? then what are you?!? I mean, I have the thoughts... They’re coming from me...” And then becuase this friened and I both have 2 year olds, our conversation was interrupted, and never got back on track. This is common for people with small children, but it was ok this day, becuase I was at a loss for how to explain myslef further. In class today Ali clarified it for me with her talk about the concept of your inner voice as a narrator who represents not your true inner self, but your ego, and is influenced by experiences, traumas, life, mood, etc. It gave me so much to think about and to celebrate. It felt like a nice piece of the puzzle was pushed into place, and it made me smile. (Will I remember to talk with this friend about it again and explain further? only time and toddlers will tell! It might be resolved in my mind, but never with another person, who knows?! OK, ok, bring it back...) All of this went on while I continued to practice.
Public asana classes are meditative for me, and for most I think. I move and I let me thoughts roll along as they wish. My brain power is mostly absorbed into my body, spontaneously moving along with the class mostly on autopilot in terms of what direction we’re going in physically, and tuning in to what I need and customizing things for mysyelf as we go. Occasionally staying in a pose for an extra breath and then catching up with class when I’m ready, not trying to force my brain to do any one thing, just letting body and mind work together in the moment, spontaneously. Moving and reacting, moving and responding, moving and thinking. Letting my mind wander, and bringing it back as needed, but without judgement or guilt. (This place has taken years to arrive at by the way. Years. More on that another time.)
I had good thoughts and bad ones, but I just kept moving and rolling with it. It truly helped me “wipe my slate clean” as Ali said. Now I get to go on with my day with a calm happy feeling. It will probably be slowly userped by the worries of life (and trump) as the day moves on, but at least I had that hour. and it’s afterglow. I took it back from the crazy world and had it for myself and sat with myself for some time this morning and had my hand on the touchstone of sanity for a bit before returning to life. It might be slowly usurped, but that hour can never be taken away. I’ts mine. I took it. I have it. I have what I learned. I have what I felt. It’ll help me not be a bitch to a friend who made some comments online that I’m angry about. It’ll help me be present with my daughter and my husband. It’ll help me be patient with myself as I struggle to decide how to move forward with my self employment plans. It’ll help me think about how to juggle the needs of my meager self employment with the cost of childcare, and it’ll help me balance my time as I struggle to prioritize things. Even as stress starts to tighten in my chest, I can close my eyes and think back to class and take that moment back to. I think it is no less than a revolutionary act to demand, and then give myself these moments of sanity.
Thank you Ali and all of my teachers. Thank you to the Universe. Thank you for the love and light of yoga. It found me right when I needed it 14 years ago. Onward and upward all.