Recently in class, I was speaking of transiting into the last quarter of the year with the shedding energy of fall: We will be winding down and decluttering the body and spirit most of the season. On the mat we move for a life of greater ease off the mat.
Nature speaks of slowing down and the change of seasons with poignancy. The rustle of fallen withered foliage under my feet. The delicious scent of the forest after a rain. Have you noticed the dewdrops? I have been rather enchanted by these iridescent pearls that shimmer in the light. They murmur softly, almost inaudibly, then disappear like the shooting star that went too fast.
little by little
Speaking of fall and shedding, I am a fan of letting go. My relationship with stuff – what I want to hold on to and what I allow to own me – has changed profoundly. Life is so much more full and fulfilling when:
- Who I truly am is not defined by the external, certainly not by cultural, familial, societal conditioning and expectations, and the judgment of others.
- I am present to what is, not teetering between the baggage of yesteryear and what-ifs of tomorrow.
- There is space – and choice – to be present to what is showing up for me.
- There is space and choice to joyfully surf life force.
This is why I practice what I practice. I practice because (1) Letting go is a constant work in progress. (2) I am imperfect.
The practice of yoga is far from achieving perfection, or getting to the destination of the full posture. Burn the goals and to-do lists please. Yoga is part undoing and part reconditioning by extending consciousness and grace to every maneuver. It is one of the most intimate ways you can develop a relationship with you, the most important person in the world.
Asking how I can ease into the asana is also asking what else I can let go of to experience the life that wants to live through me. There is such an art to feeling and understanding your own unique alignment in the forward fold while simultaneously honoring well-meaning postural cues and turning off the picture-perfect image magazines and Instagram have sold us.
Looking back, I have had so-called “perfect” alignment forced on me in my early yoga days. My teachers probably wanted me to fit into the “look” of the asana, never mind every bone, tendon and holding pattern of repressed energy is as unique as a snowflake. It is like carefully crafting a social media post to present to the world your perfect little life. Or rather the success you want others to believe you have achieved. You can believe it if you fake it enough.
In Twisted Roots, a juicy two-sided Yin pose we practiced this recent Saturday, most of us found little symmetry on both sides of the physical body. One side is almost always more open than the other. Our bodies inform us of our incredible asymmetrical truths. All we have to do is to listen to the language of the sensory body. Coming into the alignment that is unique to you is a nuanced, compassionate practice. Life is indeed so subtle and transient, blink and it passes you by. Self-realization is a gift from self-observation, a practice that is possible from slowing down and going Yinside. Pardon the Yin pun. 😉
One of the greatest gifts of freeing myself from a yoga system that was centered around the interpretation and personality of one man is fully anchoring into my own body and coming into my knowing and intuition (read full story here). This unfolding is beyond my dreams. I did not see it coming yet I was fully ready, trusting the stars are aligned and this is perfect and right for me. My new practice is filled with infinite possibilities. The new me trusts the mastery of my heart.
I know I have nailed that perfect pose – and life – when my inside feels spacious and free. I know life keeps coming in miraculous unexpected ways and all I have to remember is the daily practice adds up to real lasting change. And alignment.
Practice makes possible.
How are you practicing to fall into alignment with your heart, body and spirit?
P.S. I want to share with you this blessing of a birdsong that brings so much joy every morning, post sadhana. Alignment begins at first light. 🙂
P.PS. Yoga for Nervous System happens every Saturday morning, 10am (GMT +8), livestream. Together, we rest, digest and heal so we can live our highest evolution. Yoga for Nervous System is a secular practice for every body and creed. Come as you are. Come practice with me.