There are so many things that I love about yoga it would be impossible for me to pick just one and call it my favorite. Every time I return to my mat more things of joy are revealed by my practice. Even if I am experiencing discomfort or agitation the overall experience returns me to joy or even better, peace. I am a positive person, an optimist, and I am practiced at looking for the good, this does not mean I am always experiencing the more uplifting qualities of being, I am human after all.
As I journey through this Spring Yoga Challenge and reveal my experience through this blog I am making a concerted effort to share the highlights and the good stuff. However, being human, having a body that has been through deep injury, and a critical mind, I also find myself along the way in contracted states of unrest, discomfort, and judgement. Not that I have just returned home from a class that I did not enjoy, as a mater of fact I have enjoyed all of my classes on this journey so far, which I continue to mark as a testament to the excellence of teachings being offered at Shree. This is not a post about discontent, rather as I was walking home from class and thinking of what I wanted to share tonight it occurred to me that I wanted to speak on one of the most valuable things about this practice in my life, perhaps the thing that I might pick as a favorite if I had to.
For me taking a yoga class is like living life. You show up, you have ideas of what you might experience, you are lead on an adventure that you haven’t much control of, and all you can do is respond. Even if you are a person who does the same practice every day, the body is constantly changing, what once was will eventually become different, sometimes better sometimes the other way. All you have on the mat is what you bring with you, the quality of your intention, attitude and willingness, the power of your courage and your strength, the steadfast hold of your mindfulness and the awareness of how you feel and how you respond to that. In the end, often in Savasana (corpse pose) the experience is what you make of it. Fortunately in yoga you get to walk away from the experience, and like in life, you leave with the quality of being you allowed in your mind and heart. Needless to say, along the way you may traverse tricky footing, challenging poses, shortness of breath and fear, or the words of your teacher that push your eject button, yet what you do with the cumulative experience is up to you. I believe that a common trapping for a devoted student of yoga is the “way I like it” philosophy, and if the teacher or the class does not fit into that philosophy then class becomes an experience of forced getting through. As I see it, the opportunity to gain is always there, and often times the experiences we perceive as those we have enjoyed the least are our greatest teachers. I have come to learn the more experience I have, the more opportunity I have to bring with me to the mat what I know will support my ability to leave happy no matter what the teacher is offering, and this in my mind is a direct reflection of this wild journey we call life. Experience teaches us, be it good or bad, easy or hard, happy or sorrowful, it teaches us who we are, what we want, what we are made of, and most of all what thoughts and self expressions bring us happiness, joy, and peace.
For myself the experience of being in my body brings me great joy. The experience of generously loving with an open and courageous heart brings me even greater joy. The ability to let go of the thoughts that drag down the joy and love in my body and heart brings me peace.
Tonight I truly enjoyed Ashleigh’s Slow Jams class from 5:30 -7:00 pm. Class was a sweet journey through movement and standing poses and into even more divine restorative postures that comforted my body deeply. Though the style of yoga Ashleigh and I teach are different, I always find myself happy I attended her class. Ashleigh closed class with an invitation to us all to bow our heads to all of our teachers, I bowed to her and the lineage of yoga teachers that hold us all, with a full and reverent heart.
Again I wish to say as I near the end of my Spring Challenge all of the teachers at Shree are fantastic and have wonderful offerings for all levels and types of students. I am not the only person who thinks this as Shree has won first place in the Taos New’s Best of Taos 2014. I offer gratitude to all of our teachers and students for such a beautiful honor.
Humbled, Grateful, In Joy, and Truest Love,