Less than two minutes into today’s tech session, I encountered quite a bit of resistance to the teacher.
Long story short is that the teacher engaged in an action, then immediately told us that we should not do exactly what they just did. Furthermore, the teacher gave the admonishment to all of us with quite a stern tone.
While I am trying to embody an accepting, loving, non-reactive life, there are still a few things that get my insides fired up quickly – and hypocrisy is high on the list. (Deceit is also right up there.) So when I witnessed the action, heard the words, and felt the tone of this exchange, my emotions kicked into high-gear – and I sat on my mat pissed off.
But. The really cool news I get to share in this blog post is that within sixty seconds of feeling the flood of physiological and emotional energies wash over me (accelerating heart beat, flushed face, mental chatter…), I recognized what was going on; and I realized I could work to embody more of the life I want to live (i.e., choose a response) instead of be a passive prisoner to a habituated life (i.e., exist in a space of reflexive reactions). I’m delighted at how quickly this awareness came to me (i.e., a few months ago I might have come to this awareness at the end of the session; a year ago I might have recognized what occurred a day or two after-the-fact; and a few years ago I might only have processed ‘my part’ in the exchange after a considerable amount of time had elapsed), and I’m proud that I was able to tell myself that I would rather feel peaceful and happy than feel “justified” or “right” – and then truly believe that, and then live it. By five minutes into the class I was over myself, and I was much more open to learning the information the teacher was tasked to convey.
And it was pretty cool content. The basic theme of the session was the role the feet play in various yoga poses. In exploring and studying various postures and positions, I got to see that I have actually already internalized much of what was discussed today; that I am *living* many yoga principles both in my physical practice, and also in my “off-the-mat” life. I don’t just intellectually or cognitively “know” a lot of what was shared; I’m actively expressing it as I move and live in general. Wow. This is one of the ultimate “goals” of the 8-limbed path of yoga (i.e., to live yoga versus to “do” yoga), and it was astounding, and amazing, and rewarding for me to get to see a bit of where I am in this journey. Wow!
Now, please take all of this with the appropriate quantities of salt: I am by no means “realized”, “awakened”, etc. etc. etc. I still have plenty of work to do, plenty of distance to go. But I also want to acknowledge the progress I have made, even in as brief a period of time as these past eight months.
Interestingly, one theme that wasn’t overtly stated today, but that I intuitively became aware of, was the notion that no yoga pose should ever be “easy”. A student shouldn’t be able to just “rest” in a pose for hours on end; every pose should be active, energized, working. Ideally, every pose should be accessible and attainable, but still challenging. I believe this principle holds true not only for yoga, but also for life as a whole. It can be tempting for me to become complacent; I have a great job/family/home, I’ve achieved many goals and attained many skills, I have many positive life habits in place – it could be easy for me to look around, say “All is well!”, and kick back, relax, and be satisfied with what is. But if I do that, I won’t continue to develop and grow; indeed, without continued energy and work supporting my life, I might actually regress. So again, my asana practice informed and influenced my “off-the-mat” life; and again, I’m astounded, and delighted, and heartened.
Interesting how what began as a contentious experience for me yielded so many supportive benefits for my life.