It is hard to conceive of a math teacher having to revisit basic multiplication tables over and over or a culinary instructor forgetting how to boil water again and again. But this is exactly what has happened to me as a yoga teacher and this is exactly why I love yoga so much. We are all beginners in the art of body mind integration and when we lose that beginners mind set we lose momentum in our growth. For me, yoga is not about twisting my body into increasingly complex postures, although that can be fun! Rather yoga is about expressing my internal life with external shapes. Need courage? Hold a firm drishti (gazing point) in Warrior long enough and you will feel like a bad ass soon enough. Emotional and spiritual growth are the never ending journey of this life and yoga can be a major driver of this growth.
So, it was with the intention of staring fear in the face that I took to my mat for handstand practice this morning. True confessions time: I am a scared yoga teacher. Scared that in that moment of loss of control I will die a grisly handstand death! Then I am afraid my students will find out I am afraid. (haha...just conquered that fear) Yes, I get the irony here. Then I am afraid of being a fraud, how can I ask students to face their fears while I whimper behind the sofa? Then I am afraid of becoming stagnant and morhping into a small ball of fear....then.....then.....then....here comes the boogie man! So, post coffee and pre Greek yogurt I unrolled my mat placed, my hands firmly on the floor, (I am a brave yoga teacher) plugged in my shoulders, took a deep breath and thought about all of these fears. Then I hopped and hopped some more until finally collapsing into a sad sweaty child's pose on my mat. And then it hit me...
I have been using fear to attempt to drive out fear. As in : "you must do this handstand or you will be a crappy teacher, or you will contract into fear, or...." Well, fear is a completely ineffective tool for driving out fear (duh..life 101) rather scripture says it best "There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear" I John 4:18. So I thought back to the joy in my practice, the strength in my body, the courage in my soul and from a place of love once again I hopped and hopped and hopped. Only this time when I ended in child's pose there was peace and joy. Yoga isn't always about peace and joy, of course, but if your yoga is fear driven then it may be time to learn how to boil that water once again.
Meet yourself with love and you just may turn your world upside down. And sometime to turn yourself right side up you gotta go upside down!
Friday, May 11, 2012
"I hate change" is a phrase I hear more often than I would like from my yoga students. This is pretty much the equivalent of saying "I hate to breath". With every new breath subtle change is introduced into our body and with every passing moment subtle changes are occurring in our lives. God instructs us to come to Him "as little children" and while this scripture can be applied with broad brush strokes today I just want to take a second to imagine an infant wailing that they hate change and want to stay in that poopy diaper, a toddler wailing that they hate change and never want to walk steadily, a preteen who never wants to grow up...like breathing change is a constant subtle fact of life. Without change there is no growth. Without growth there are no blooms on your flowers.Hating change is setting yourself up for hating life...so lets flow yogis and seekers.
A human is like a mighty river, fed from the High mountain streams and flowing until we empty out into the great gulf of humanity. This flow is a constant change and it not only serves humanity for us to be open hearted and generously open handed, it also serves us. The places where we refuse to change where we hang on to the old are the places where we dam up the river. It doesn't take long for stagnant water to become murky and stale and infested with pests. Are you flowing yogi or "dam it all" are you resisting change with all your might?
Life is not even spurts of change between various destinations. It is constant change. We are never "there" we don't "arrive" until we die and then who knows?! But instead of letting this fact tire you imagining spending your life swimming up river against the natural flow of change, imagine a life spend blissfully floating with the tides of change. When we accept change as the only unchanging fact of life it is a beautiful surrender to truth.We are moving and flowing so the choice today is to chill in the river or waste your energy flailing and fighting. With our local rivers swollen after an exhilarating rain I say lets not paddle upstream today!
"Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death" Anais Nin