Some people collect art, while others collect meaningful figurines or decorative antiques. I collect words. I’m always seeking inspiration through words.
Other people’s expressions in the form of words seem to penetrate the layers of my being, slowly but powerfully making the ascension toward my heart center. Words are beautiful tools. They often act as an excavator, digging beneath the surface of my being uncovering layers of truth.
The quiet spaces in between these words, the way the breath flows, the way the heartbeat quickens; these spaces offer truth, as well.
Eventually, certain words become part of me, or I part of them. I find a well of inspiration in my collection where I can send down the bucket of my sorrow or despair, my woe is me bucket can be drawn down to retrieve the tools I’ve collected for healing.
Yoga Teachers Can Seize Vulnerability
As many yoga enthusiasts will agree, very often, the person who guides us through our moving meditation possesses a gift. We are vulnerable in our yoga practice. Our hearts are open as our breath links our movements in the graceful dance of our flow, or eases our ego in the non-graceful, fall out moments.
We are open to receive. We receive the wisdom of our instructors in those moments as children absorb their environment; they begin to understand their bodies as they learn to walk and eventually run.
A yoga teacher is in a special position of healing, as they can penetrate our hearts while we are in a state of vulnerability. This is one of my greatest reasons for wanting to become a yoga instructor. Here is my favorite compilation of words, which have changed my perspective during this vulnerable state of yoga practice.
1) Stale air, Stale Thoughts!
I had a Bikram instructor a few years back who would say this often, as he guided us through releasing and not holding onto the breath during challenging poses. As we released our breath, he would remind us that stale air was comparable to stale thoughts. Let it go. Create space for fresh nourishing breath... and thoughts.
2) Release What No Longer Serves You
As we breathe through our asana practice, we are reminded to release tension; to let go of tension in the body, as well as tension in the mind. As we live our lives off of our yoga mats, very often we cling. We cling to our habits, relationships, and attachments even if they no longer serve us.
Learning to release what no longer serves may be our greatest challenge, but one that will reveal a reservoir of self-love with depths we have never imagined.
3) Your Mind is like a bad neighborhood. Don’t go there!
One of my instructors would jokingly remind us of this during the challenges of balancing postures. We can all relate to finding our balance in a posture or really going deeper, and just as we begin to think about our current progress or the present state of joy in finding these depths…we fall.
Our minds are actually taking our focus off of our practice. Moving meditation lies in presence, as we find our focus, our gaze is steady, but soft…and we are in union. The union of body, mind, and spirit is what helps us to go deeper in our practice. As soon as the balance of this union is disturbed by the mind taking center stage, our bodies soon follow and lose balance as well.
This is true for so many other experiences off of our mat as well. Our thoughts create our reality. The more we analyze and think about a certain situation, we become out of balance because our heart is no longer our center. Our center is now in the mind, and this makes peace much harder to attain.
4) Send Breath Wherever It Is Needed
Very often, as we breathe through a challenging pose, we begin to feel resistance in the body and perceive pain. When I first began practicing yoga, I only focused on the breath as something that flowed through my belly, chest and diaphragm. Visualizing healing through other parts of my body using my breath was not something that I practiced.
One of my yoga teachers suggested that we “send breath wherever it is needed.” Now, as I perceive pain or discomfort, I breathe deeply as I send healing to the area that is struggling. I am amazed by how it works every time. Life force energy flows within every cell of our being. We can send it wherever it is needed.
5) Accept where you are in the present moment
We change from day to day. Just as in our yoga practice, we flow beautifully through class and go deeper in every pose on a particular day. The very next, we may stumble and feel winded easily as we struggle to find even slight balance.
Life is ever changing. Who we interact with, how we are feeling emotionally, what we ate, how much we slept; all these factor into how we flow through our life. Some days we float, while others, we struggle to keep our head above water and resist every outstretched hand.
It’s so important to never judge ourselves or become attached to an identity is so important. We CAN be a yogi and have a difficult practice, just as we CAN be spiritually focused and feel moody or grumpy. Life never stops shifting around us, or within us. Yoga teachers can be life-changing.
“It is through the alignment of the body that I discovered the alignment of my mind, self, and intelligence.”
Thank you, Mr. Iyengar.