I get it now. In the past couple or years and specifically over this last winter I would sometimes, not often, but sometimes, finish my Yoga practice and have a feeling of calm or clarity or something bordering on contentment, that I experienced in this way only from Yoga. In those moments I would try to focus on some decision I needed to make, feeling like in that space I had the tools to make good choices.
Today though I realized that that moment can be SO much more and it is the gift you give yourself for having a practice and dedicating yourself to it.
For the last several days we are no longer led through the Ashtanga series, we do it on our own, from memory and at the pace of our own breath. We are an unsynchronized group of 18 each going in and out of Asanas as our own internal pace dictates. Some of us finish the series quickly and leave the Shala. Others stay even longer than I, and I am by no means flying through the series. Still others don’t complete the series because they reach their moment of clarity and Vinyasa becomes secondary to the real work they are doing.
In class today one of the women had a moment while in Urdhva Dhanurasana - wheel pose, an intense back bend. She started just weeping, sobbing, gasping. None so much as glanced her way, this was her moment and we had no business there, finally one of the teachers went to her and held her in that pose. Our natural instinct is to shy away from things that make us cry but she held her there, ensuring that the energy that was causing this moment stayed with her a while longer.
We all know we will get there eventually and in a small way I was almost envious, I want my moment! But of course we cannot force these things. Still more of the girls have had sad, almost breakdown moments and I keep expecting mine to come. My mentor Sandra tells me often that this is fine, normal, emotions and old scars will surface, it is good. I almost feel like I am failing because I have yet to cry. Then again, I just spent the better part of a year crying and perhaps my moment involves the absence of tears rather than their presence.
So this morning I went into meditation and I set my intention on mindfulness and presence. I had the greatest practice of my life. I didn’t necessarily bend the furthest ever, but I found grace and purpose and I was mindful in each pose. If my mind began to wander I brought it back. If I was in pain, I took the time to stay there and be thankful that I could be there and would soon be released from that pose, just two more, just one more breath….
My mentor told me yesterday to only go so far in the series as the poses I could name, so today that took me three poses past the sitting series, Bhujapidasna, Kurmasana-Suptakurmasa, Garbna Pindasana and then into the closing Asanas. That means there are still about 20 postures I need to learn but I made it three further today than yesterday and two of the postures I did on my own for the very first time.
Bhujapidasana is when it started happening for me. It is a pose where you balance your shins and then your whole weight on the back of your upper arms. I have never really done this well - I have done and easier variation called Crow, but not this one. Today I held it, and when I came out of the pose I looked around for someone to share the moment with, someone to validate me, to acknowledge what an accomplishment that was, but everyone else was in their own space and so I realized... I had to find my kudos in myself, being proud of myself has to be enough. That was a huge lesson..
This huge, jaw aching smile came across my face and I couldn’t stop it.
I finished the closing postures, lay in Shivasana, the corpse pose, for about ten minutes, sat up, sealed my practice with and internal mantra and stood to put my things away and head to breakfast. Only I couldn’t move. For a moment I was frozen in this smile, this huge all-encompassing smile. I floated to my locker put my things away, started walking back to the cottage and about ten steps from the Shala I started laughing and crying and shaking and I felt honest to God JOY.
It only lasted a few minutes but I am hooked! I will suffer through two hours on those days I am having a hard time being present, I will wake up at 5:30, I will twist my ankles so far I think they will snap, whatever it takes to be there again. To be that joyful again. To have my moment again.
During our first class ten days ago, we each chose a card and I chose Guru. This seems fitting now as I have decided to extend my time in Bali to further my practice and am seriously considering a side trip to India after that.
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