Lessons from a triangle

Tonight I attended Part II of a topic that began last Thursday; and interestingly, tonight’s class was both very different from, and yet also similar to, last week’s session. Kooky, eh? Here’s the scoop:

Last week the teacher seemed to be sharp, direct, demanding, exacting. This week, that very same teacher seemed to be approachable, flexible, questioning, curious… the attitudinal shift was significant. In fact, at many times during the class this evening, the teacher made comments along the lines of, “What do you think about [fill in the blank]?” Pause. We look at her expectantly, waiting for the “right” answer; and, sensing our waiting, the teacher looks at us all, smiles, and continues with, “Oh, I don’t have any answers for you all. I just ask the questions to help you to think and decide for yourselves.” Interesting. Granted, this approach can be a little annoying at times, but mostly I find it to be… open. I don’t know if it’s “effective” persay; but it *does* get me to think about my own practice, and encourages me (and helps me) to form my own point of view and opinions. Interesting…

Most of tonight’s session was spent exploring different ways to do three different poses (cobra, half moon, and triangle). I struggle with both half moon and triangle; and tonight I learned that one of the things I do in these poses is push my arms too far back, and stick my chest too far forward. When the teacher positioned my arms where they were supposed to be, the pose felt “too easy” – it felt like I wasn’t extending to my full ability. (I’ve had similar experiences before.) What I’m learning in yoga (which I can then apply to other [all?] domains in my life) is that sometimes (often times? most of the time?) what’s really called for is not more pushing and straining and stress, but instead relaxing into, and letting go, and trust. While “easing back” may feel easy physically, it is difficult for me to do intellectually and emotionally. So perhaps this is exactly where my practice needs to go. Instead of being a Type A hard-charger, perhaps *my* “job” in yoga is to learn how to relax; and to trust (and one day, maybe to even believe) that relaxing isn’t the same thing as slacking; that letting go isn’t the same thing as giving up; and that trusting instead of controlling is a much more peaceful, happy, and effective way to live.

As the end of the class approached I was getting tired, but I also still really wanted to learn as much as I could about the three asanas. In the last 10 minutes of class I was practicing triangle pose, and the teacher came up to me and began adjusting my body. I tried to be loose and let her move me as she wanted, but I just couldn’t get my body to fully release into her adjustments. After a few unsuccessful minutes, she softly said to me, “You’re a tough one,” and then moved on to another student. And here once again, my yoga practice mirrors my life. At work several years ago, many people told me that upon initially meeting me, they felt that I was intimidating. When I first heard this feedback, I found it quite humorous, considering that I’m all of 5’4” tall and weigh around 100 lbs. I’m hardly a physically demanding presence when I walk into any room – how could I possibly be intimidating? However, after hearing the message many more times, from many different people, I began to study it with more seriousness; and I found that the energy I had about me (expressed via my attitude, body language, verbal tone, word choices, etc.) was what felt so intimidating to people. And truly, being “intimidating” is not the tone I want to live my life in or through. So, I started making conscious, deliberate adjustments in many different facets of my life; and now (several years later), most of the people I meet don’t feel an “intimidation” factor coming from me. (Well, most of the time, anyway.) But to have that message crop up once again, in this new time and new place and new setting, was a powerful reminder for me. Yes, I made good progress towards being more open and reachable at one level of my life; but yoga is more subtle than business. Tonight’s class showed me that I still have more work to do inside, more distance to go within.

Which is fine. I’m not upset by this renewed awareness; truth is truth. I get to use this information as motivation to continue on my journey, my path. So here I go…



About Stef

A "serious" gal who is trying to remember to lighten up and smile.
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