Have you ever been changed? Have you ever felt that in one moment you’re one way and in the next you’re another? You’re different. Like there’s been a shift in the way you think, the way you act, the way your heart beats and your lungs breathe. This has nothing to do with aesthetics; in fact, it has little to do with anything in the external world. I’m talking about a profound inner change, an awakening if you will. The kind of change that makes getting up early feel easy, that causes you to sit a little taller in your seat. The kind of change that makes you feel confident in your being, not in relation to any other person, place or thing, but confident being in your body, in your mind, being your spirit. It feels true and honest and integral. And when this change happens, it’s hard to imagine you were living any other way. I ask you again, have you ever been changed?
If you have, where are you now?
And if you haven’t, where are you now?
You’re lying on your living room couch, completely unperturbed. Your muscles have seized, your eyes are heavy and your drifting in and out of consciousness. Napping is an appealing idea. Getting up seems like an excruciatingly difficult task, it seems distant and effort demanding. But your asana class starts in half an hour...
I feel, with confidence that you know where I’m coming from. This has happened to us all at least a few (dozen) times. Maybe you just got home after a long day at the office, maybe you managed to finally put the kids to bed, maybe it’s 6am and your bed has a pleasantly tight hold on you. Whatever the reason, we have all experienced times when the inkling to go to yoga class is a little on the weak side.
I encountered one of these moments earlier this week. Tuesdays and Thursdays are my only open evenings. They’re my me-time. But after a long week of work, dance instruction, school and new puppy training, my open nights can feel short and leaving the house is sometimes a dismaying task. But nonetheless my Thursdays are open. Class doesn’t begin until 6:30pm. That means I can go; great right!? Errrrrm, not exactly. I get home at about 5pm, lay down for what I tell myself is a moment of energy “conservation”, and bam; head down, feet up, sedentary. I look at the clock through glazed eyes and see that it’s 6:15pm… Come on Robyn… You. Must. Move.
I have to admit, at these times, picking up my yoga mat, getting into my car, driving to the studio and taking my seat is a bit of a chore. My apologies, Mother Divine. I tell my self that it’s a necessity rather than a choice. That the experiential benefits far outweigh any cons of getting up and doing something that it good for my body, my mind and my spirit (the mind can be quite distorted at times). But, it is hard in those moments of sheer exhaustion, I know it and I’ll be the first to admit it.
What I also know however, is that as soon as I’m in studio, concentrating on my breath, as soon as I start giving my heart permission to open and my mind permission to relax, I’m delighted that I’m there. I know I made the right decision. Mental and emotional stress fades, muscle tenseness wanes and the connectedness I feel with the universe heightens. I’m reminded of the purpose of asana, of yoga. I’m reminded of the importance of honoring my body and mind and of introspecting within myself. I’m reminded that contentment is achieved through being, here, as is, now. As I flow through my vinyasas, ground through warrior sequences, embrace the strength and stability of balancing postures, and feel my spine awaken through backbends, I receive freedom of the body, mind and spirit. Even if this freedom is not felt physically, it is there. It is in my breath, in my movement, in my intention for practicing.
And the most incredible part, the most meaningful outcome of getting your butt to class, is how it will influence your everyday thought processes and your everyday actions - life yoga. You may receive a new instruction cue that opens you up in just the right way, allowing you to combat that nagging pinch in your neck that’s been present for weeks. You may experience a deep and powerful savasana, which grants you relaxation, helping you put that work-stress into perspective. You may minimize emotional pain by connecting with your breath; a reminder that you are safe and secure in this moment. Maybe you will challenge your modifying mind, prompting yourself to question the external entities that feel chained to you. Peer yogis who are concerned with nurturing themselves and with nurturing those around them will surround you, allowing you to feel inner love and kindness towards others. A balanced asana practice, leaves me feeling grateful for being, for the opportunity to live and be part of this beautiful world. The self-seeing I am granted in asana practice, allows me to practice yoga such that I become a better person - a true reflection of my soul.
Case in point, the more times I don’t feel like going to asana, the more times I (sometimes mechanically) grab my mat and manage to find the studio door. The more times I step onto my mat despite feeling like an unenthusiastic, half-present participant, the less unconscious the act becomes. With each asana practice existing as a proven reminder of why yoga is so beneficial for my entire being, the more excited I am to engage.
The pursuit of yoga; it’s a beautiful thing… even when you don’t feel like going to asana… go. It’s worth it, cross my yogi heart.
A day and a half of yoga practice and the fog is beginning to ascend. Slowly but naturally. Physically, I do not feel overly energetic, however my mental and emotional state has experience notable enhancement since getting back into my regular yogic routine. My lesson learned is exemplified and I am further convinced that yoga practice exists as a profound healing entity. I am reminded of how grateful I am for the opportunity to delve deeper into my own personal practice through teacher training and also for the manifesting ability to share this powerful and purposeful practice with others.
Life throws you curve balls. Setbacks happen.
I was sick these past two weeks. Not your average run of the mill cold, I had strep throat, was extremely congested and when accompanied with the extreme anxiety and homesickness I've been experiencing lately, it really knocked me on my ass. It's difficult to practice pranayama when you can't breathe through your nostrils in the slightest and asana isn't overly comfortable when your joints are achy, like old rusty hinges.
So, I took a break from seriously practicing yoga - physical, mental and emotional yoga - physical yoga and life yoga. And I learned a valuable lesson from doing so.
If I do not live in the present moment, if I let my past create worries and my future create anxieties, if I let my consciousness be governed by ignorance, then I will suffer. My immunity will decrease as a result of my mind working overtime (where your intention goes, your energy flows) and the extra energy and effort needed to do this, is transferred from elsewhere - in this case, my physical body. I stopped taking care of myself and my body responded, my mind responded and my soul responded. I became sick, I became stressed and I became sad and angry with myself. It resulted in an overall feeling of fogginess. There was no trace of clarity and the challenge of getting back on track was ever so real.
I'm trying to get back on track. I'm battling mental conflicts with rational, present minded thinking. I'm attempting to honour and accept emotions. I'm introspecting and re-integrating all forms of yoga back into my life. Asana, pranayama, meditation, mindfulness, writing and Ayurvedic lifestyle modifications. It's not happening with the snap of my fingers but I know that consistency and commitment are key to experiencing contentment in any form.
I am here. I am here now. I am.
The honest learnings and raw reflections of my practice and my life. Unedited.