I’m a little shocked: As I got out of bed this morning, I discovered I wasn’t horrifically sore – wow! My shoulder blade area was slightly tight (formerly this was an area where I had persistent, significant issues – so it’s wonderful that I have enough awareness and self-acceptance/self-respect/self-honor that I can care for this part of my body throughout the day, both on the yoga mat and off), and my upper tush was pretty tender (I must have done a lot of lunging and squatting yesterday). But all in all, physically I’m in pretty darn good shape after 4 hours of yoga yesterday – two-and-a-half of which I’d venture to wager were pretty intense. Woo hoo!
Emotionally, I’d describe myself as “borderline”. I’m still feeling pretty raw (for more on that see yesterday’s class), but I’m also eager to get back to the yoga studio and see how this experience ends. (And I’m eager in a positive way, not an aversive way.) So off to the studio I go.
Dave began our final class with a story about John Diaz, a business man who was a survivor of a plane crash in which 83 other people died. As the plane was going down, John looked behind him, and saw people dying. And as each person died, John saw a light leave each body. Some lights were fierce and bright, and others were very, very dim. John believes each light was each person’s soul, and the brightness/dimness was an indicator of how that person lived his or her life.
With that, Dave began our final class, focused on our soul’s light, and on the quality of wellness, and of our lives. Here we go.
We started the class with about 20 minutes of gentle vinyasa yoga: easy updogs, restorative down dogs, a few casual twists. Nothing crazy, nothing taxing; just nice, easy, flowing yoga.
From there, Dave led us through a yin yoga series. If you have been following this blog, you might remember how I felt about my very first (and currently only) exposure to yin yoga – namely, that I was not a fan. So when Dave began a discussion of chakras, and how we were going to go into one pose per chakra and hold it for several minutes, my mind firmly said, “Uh oh, this smells like yin yoga!”, and I started to tense up a bit, and worry just a titch. But I got into the first pose. For each pose, Dave explained the chakra associated with it, told a very brief related story, and then played a brief related song. And as Dave was getting us into the first yin pose, Bono was singing to me, “It’s all right, it’s all right, it’s all right….”, and I smiled. Stef, it’s all right.
I relaxed a little bit. As I entered pose #2, I was on the border of anxious-and-calm, on the precipice of worried-and-peaceful; and then, Paul Simon gently told me how “all is groovy”. And again, I smiled.
Towards the end of pose #2, still teetering on the razor-thin edge between clinging and releasing, a voice came into my head. It said, “Yo – don’t strive, and don’t seek. You’ll get what you need, if you just let it come to you. Don’t grab at the ground; the earth wants to support you. So don’t fight it; and for God’s sake, don’t work so damn hard for it. Just allow it. LET it.”
And so I did. I let go.
And I had a restorative, powerful, beautiful yin yoga session. I settled into each pose, and into each moment. I relaxed. I felt peace.
During one of the early poses, Dave told a story about an American woman who was scuba diving during the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. She was deep in the water, looking, admiring, just hanging out. When she surfaced, the tsunami had finished, and she saw the complete devastation all around her. She was not only spared from the destruction, she had no idea it had even occurred – all because she was deep enough below the surface to remain unaffected. When life is tough, we can either get smacked around by it all, *or* we can dig deep into our inner resources, and find the calm amid the storm.
During one of the later poses, Dave told a story about early airplanes, about how when they were first invented, they couldn’t go very high. Because they were always flying in low, choppy air, they were super-turbulent, and people would always get sick in them. However, as aviation knowledge increased and technology improved, the planes could go higher and higher, and eventually were able to fly up above choppy weather, into smooth air. When life gets really choppy, if we can’t find the deep inner reserves, perhaps we can go up higher (dare I say to our Higher Power) and find the calm there.
Dave ended the session with a quote he heard somewhere: “Your life should fit snug over your soul.”
Or, as Mick Jagger might advise, “You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, well, you just might find, you get what you need.”
Post Script: At the end of this session, Dave led the class through a chocolate tasting. I politely declined the tasting, and instead just quietly carried my bag out of the studio as people were getting their sweets from the other room. As I was heading out the door, a fellow student saw me and said, “Hey, you’re leaving? But you’re not staying for the best part!”
I wanted to respond, to let her know that no amount of chocolate, no matter how delicious, could ever come close to a decent substitute for inner stillness, inner calm, inner peace. And that, THAT was what I got to taste in today’s session. I wanted to gently take her by the shoulders, to softly tell her, “No, hon, I already had the best part of today’s class. But thanks anyway.”
But I didn’t do that. I didn’t say anything at all. Instead, I just looked at her, and I smiled. And I left. :)