“Study thy Self, discover the Divine.” – Yoga Sutra II.44
How are you feeling today?
Right now I’m far from discovering Divine in myself … I am feeling equal parts frustration, impatience, enthusiasm & hope.
As we continue to navigate the choppy waters of personal life, community life, & the global realities of COVID-19 & racist policies & systems … which many experts in a variety of fields predict we’ll be swimming in for months, even years, to come … how are you feeling today?
This question has been asked of me daily for the last 8 weeks by my teachers BEFORE any breathwork, asana or meditation — before what I’ve assumed is “the REAL Yoga” — happens. Jivana Heyman greeted us each morning of our Accessible Yoga teacher training with, “How are you feeling today?” And would proceed to WAIT … online, with 300 people … for us to contemplate this question. Silence over the airwaves. Gasp.
How often have I asked this question to a person / group in passing, simply as a transition to my next thought?
Jivana then let us know how HE was doing that day … from his home in California, with vulnerability & authenticity. “Today I’m feeling a bit anxious …” WHAT?! Our teacher is feeling anxious? Isn’t he supposed to be transmitting love & light & good vibes??
IT WAS A RELIEF TO HEAR HIS WORDS.
What a RELIEF to hear that folks farther along the path of Yoga are real people with real feelings & all the day-to-day thoughts that race through and/or clutter my own mind.
In the traditional Hatha Yoga practice of the Himalayan Masters, like many other traditions, we begin practice with centering – a time to arrive, check-in with our body & begin to settle our breath & mind for practice. This internal check-in is super-important to let our nervous system transition – to send our body messages like, “Hey, we’re going to do this now, you’re safe, pay attention.”
In my own Yoga practice, I take time to notice how my body is feeling, how my breath is flowing & maybe set an intention. I think it’s a good start =). To sit with, “How am I feeling today?” for any amount of time is … for me … hard. I wanna get to the “real Yoga” … & this contemplation hasn’t been on my Yoga radar.
During a group feedback session, our moderator Melanie Camellia challenged my way of thinking about group yoga classes & check-ins. I remember saying, “The check-in concept has been a revelation to me … I’m a task-oriented person, & have assumed that I need to make the most of people’s time by getting to the ‘real part of the practice’ … & from this [accessible yoga] training I’m re-defining what the ‘real practice’ actually is …” They listened as I worked through the revelation that the “real Yoga practice” is about PEOPLE, not a sequence.
IT WAS A RELIEF TO TAKE IN THAT TRUTH.
Yoga is about regular people like you & me re-membering the Divine in each of us. That may be through living an ethical life (yamas/niyamas), practicing certain postures (asanas), practicing breathwork/meditation (pranayama/dharana/dhyana) … that may be through gardening, walking with your loved ones, or taking naps … which have been my Yoga practices the past few months. Feeling what it is we feel in the moment without judgment. Finding the Sacred in the Ordinary.
So, I am feeling frustration, impatience, enthusiasm & hope. I sit with these feelings AS PART OF my practice, AS EQUAL PART of the “real Yoga” as I currently understand it ;). I look forward to broadening my understanding — I thank my teachers at Accessible Yoga, my teachers Kate & Tracee, their teachers Panditji & Rod Stryker, their teacher Swami Rama, & his teachers of the Himalayan Tradition of 3,000 years & beyond.
I look forward to checking in with YOU during our online & outdoor yoga experiences together this summer. I thank each of you who continue to regularly check in with me — it means so much to connect with you. E