17 June, 2012

This is a time of transition

Today was Power Vinyasa with Nicole at Milton Yoga.

This studio was recommended to me by my cousin, who is friends with Nicole. Turns out, Nicole has her own yoga blog: The Sassy Yogini (which looks really good). Milton Yoga is a small studio, currently run in the off-hours at a preschool (with curtains hung to delimit the "studio," but apparently they are soon to be moving to a new location).

Today, we were in Downward Dog, in one of those moments between flows. Nicole told us that we could stay in Downward Dog, or rest in Child's Pose or, if we wanted to intensify, we could do Dolphin. And then she said something that a) made me instantly start crying, and b) has been stuck in my mind like a lightning bolt for the past hour:

This is a time of transition. And just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should.

And I thought about that. There was this immediate emotional reaction: crying. Reminds me of how Cassandra always says that you can tell if something is true by where you feel it. I felt this in my heart, before my head even got started working on it. 

It's such a brilliant statement. The first thing I thought about is the parallels in my life. I am in a time of transition. Coming to yoga, changing jobs. All of these things are transitions. Big ones. And, in some ways, the changes that are happening in me feel like they could ultimately be gateways to bigger changes. But there's this tendency to look at every option that presents itself and feel like I need to decide something. Now. Like I need to pursue something. Now. But that's not true. This is a time of transition. And just because I can do something, doesn't mean that I should.

But that statement made me think about the yoga sequence, too. Downward Dog is something that teachers often call "a resting pose." And it certainly doesn't feel like a resting pose, depending on what state your body is. But it's a place of transition. It's a kind of yoga-limbo. You can find rest or work in it. Or you can just be in it, without going in either direction. Just being in Downward Dog, is sort of like just being in our lives, semi-work, semi-discomfort, semi-rest. It's the day-to-day. The flow starts to take on a whole new meaning, metaphorically, when you think about it that way.

Nicole's class really, really, really reminded me of "Home" (Urban Yoga Spa). 

She talked about finding our "edge" when were doing Crescent Lunge, and about how only we know where that edge is, and only we know when we should push and when we should go easy. But then she asked the question:

If not here, then where?

That's a good question to take to the mat. Every day, we choose to show up. And even when we show up, we still have the choice of how we are going to show up. There's somewhat of a paradox in there, and we all acknowledge it. We talk about how the time to do the work is always now, but we follow that immediately with the reminder to be our own guru. Are these contradictions? I don't think so. It's that "middle way" that you know when you're on it, and you know when you're not. And all it takes to know is to listen.

We did the standard Vinyasa flows, with some opening stretching exercises. Instead of doing a balance series, we did some strengthening exercises based around Horse Pose, where we worked our arms in various ways: triceps, lats, pectorals (all the while, building a fire in the legs, staying in that high squat).

Near the beginning of class, Nicole mentioned how she often wonders what brings us all here to the yoga mat. We all have our reasons, but she felt there is some common thread. She talked about opening hearts, and broken hearts, and then she offered up a somewhat funny, but insightful idea:

If we didn't all have broken hearts, we wouldn't be coming to do yoga.

At first, it might sound romantic or melodramatic. But it's really just seeing what's true. We all do have broken hearts. Some of us come to yoga. Some of us do not. But part of the human condition is just that: trying to cope with, or mend "heart-breaking" or "heart-closing" that occurs over time. Some "practices" that humans engage in actually close the heart further, in an effort to protect it. But others, like yoga, are aimed at opening the heart, mending the heart, allowing things to come in.

Taking the "Yoga Tour" this weekend was a special experience. Nominally, I did it in service of my own personal Yogalympics challenge of going for at least 45 consecutive days without skipping any. But it ended up being much more than that. I had been living in this bubble of Urban Yoga Spa, because it is my home, my safe haven. A place where I come to do my inner work. But taking it on the road, so to speak, made me realize that the place I am really doing my inner work is in me. And it doesn't matter where I am.

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