Slow. Fast. Your choice. That’s what’s great about yoga.
I experienced recently that conversation within my own home practice. I gave myself the choice. What choice you ask? To breathe and move slow, or to breathe and move fast. That is the question. Oh, yeah, to me, yoga is in the questioning and noticing, not in the pose, product, or goal. I digress. Point is that sometimes breathing and moving slow can open doors and windows of this conversation, sometimes not. Sometimes breathing and moving fast can open doors and windows of this conversation, sometimes not. Ok, now you might be asking, what’s the conversation? It’s any kind of conversation that could lead one to clarity, lead one to being fully in the moment as a friend, yoga. Oh, yeah, also, you can’t force it. If you do, that’s when things can lock up, grip, or brace, and that’s when things can stop moving. We’re alive and breathing, and things will move. Why inhibit that? Yoga is about freedom and liberation, and within that freedom and liberation, you have a choice. But I do have to say, that if one cultivates a practice of breathing and moving slower, you got a few things going on. You’re paying attention as you practice (hopefully), you’re paying attention to what you’re doing, and you’re allowing your breath to be your teacher, so if one day you choose to breathe and move faster, you’re not going to deplete yourself of energy, and you’re not going to hurt yourself because you took the time to breathe and move slower.
Last week as I was practicing at home, I noticed that I was breathing and moving faster than normal. I was booking. It was a little bit shocking, and a bit of a surprise. I also noticed that I wasn’t forcing any of it. It just kinda happened, and I went with it. It felt really supportive. I gave myself that space. I wish everyone would give themselves that space. And when my practice was done, I felt a bit more balanced, and bit more even, and that’s a good thing. I’m not going for perfection when I practice or anything for that matter. I’m into the noticing. That day I noticed I breathed and moved a bit faster than normal, but I didn’t deplete myself of energy (and trust, living in NYC can deplete you). Yoga. Who could ask for anything more?
If you’re interested in that space and conversation, come to one of my classes in Brooklyn at Abhyasa Yoga Center. Would love to breathe and move with you. This is America! You have a choice!
The Zen Buddhist library is open.
The Lankavatara Sutra. Chapter IX. The Fruit of Self-Realisation. Page 85.
Even with these eloquent words, words and ideas are not central for the transmission of this teaching. It is a reflection of Zen. Words and letters are at best a description of reality and not the reality itself. Woah. That’s heavy. Put that in your incense burner, and spark it up.
Sometimes doing simplest things can bring great benefits. I’m talking about yoga and the lens from which I’m looking through. That’s the lens I’m sharing when I’m teaching. For me, in regards to practicing, and in turn teaching, my goal is no goal. I don’t have a goal. Well, if there is no goal, what is then? It’s learning something about yourself with the process and feedback along the way. Yoga. To do that, I just want to give people the space to explore and breathe.
I had a special place last week for a group of middle school and high school students. These awesome youngins’ came to Abhyasa Yoga Center in Brooklyn where I teach for a private class. They had various special needs, and this was their first yoga class ever. Not a problem, and really not different from anyone else. I showed them around the center, helped them get situated with mats, bolsters, blankets, blocks, etc…and off we went into the yoga blue yonder. The class, as well as all my other classes, wasn’t about performing asana. It was about being together, listening to each other, and helping each other out. Yeah, we did some cat-cow, some warrior I, some warrior II, some tree, talked about pranayama, but it was beyond all that. It was a space of support and observation, and at the end of class, a space of rest and relaxation, which they loved. It was awesome and uplifting. It was one of the most pleasurable classes I’ve ever taught. As they we’re leaving, and saying good bye, and walking out the door, everybody, including myself, was full of laughter and joy. I had an amazing time, and had extra spring in my step for the rest of they day, as I hope they did too.
You know, I go through stuff too, and this time that I spent with these wonderful newly minted yogis got me through a passing period in my life, where, you know, things can get hard, even for yoga teachers. Hey, we’re people too. They helped me, and I hoped I helped them. To me, that’s what yoga is about; help when someone needs it, being in a space of exploring to where you are alert and relaxed, strong and soft, to where you have zeal and patience, and to where you can breathe. Freedom. Choices. Yoga.
Many thanks to my new friends for an opportunity to learn about myself while teaching this wonderful process of yoga.
Photo by Anna Rose