Tomorrow begins the Root Down yoga challenge at Shree, our newest and greatest innovation in the invitation to come to the mat, again and again, in good company. Spring is a juicy time to settle into the practice and investigate what is stirring, as below the surface, tap roots are coming alive.
In yoga, the practitioner is in a steady state of spring. Recognition of promise and potential are addressed humbly, and the focus in any given moment settles on what is at hand. What humble courageousness to accept that all that has come before has only led to this moment, and that much more is waiting in the wings. The yoga embodies the great spirit choice to retain balanced attention: not too much, not too little, for all of it.
In the Upanishads (ancient scripture describing the philosophy and teachings of yoga), the concept of neti neti is introduced. Literally, neti neti means “not this, not this”, and includes a practice of finding truth by understanding what is not true. As yoga practice deepens, more and more attachments fall away. The practitioner sees that not this (one pose), nor this (rigid alignment), not this (particular breath), nor this (one teacher), nor that (stylish pair of pants), and on and on it goes, will ever completely answer the questions that burn at the heart of the practice. Each aspect has value to offer to a depth of understanding, but will not, in and of itself, solve the puzzle.
The value of learning what is not true and shining the light of the sun of your heart on what is, in fact, true for you, is an exercise in the yamas and the niyamas. Saucha (purity) is expressed in clearing away distraction. Brahmacharya (control of the senses) is displayed in avoiding the train-wreck that ensues from following the leash of the senses. Satya (truthfulness) is found, only through process. Aparigraha (non-grasping) presents in the practice of letting go of what no longer serves. Santosha (contentment) is exposed in the simple pleasure of regular practice. These are the roots of the yoga practice, and often begin to show themselves only after time.
By returning, again and again, all is slowly revealed. Might you in your month of Root Down answer all of your heart’s deepest questions? And is the challenge forsooth the answer to all of your prayers? Neti neti. Even this is just a construct, created to offer structure to the formless, but why not? How else will you find the truth? And what better way to spend the windy month of April than setting roots down into the well of radical self-care? Root down, and simply watch to see what arises from your depths.
With love and respect, Suki Ola