August Newsletter: Let your mat be the mirror of your life???
LET YOUR MAT BE THE MIRROR OF YOUR LIFE
I’ve used this concept as my beacon, my guidepost, for many many years of practice and even offered it as I instruction to my students. I’m not ready to throw it out the window BUT…. Perhaps there are times when our practice of yoga needs to be our antidote as opposed to our mirror or our fuel?!
I’m no stranger to physical challenge, in fact, I am a self -described physical intensity junky and from my early days of dance have enjoyed pushing my body and feeling its strength. I’ve always equated this ability for single pointed focus with allowing me to attain physical strength and flexibility in daily life. At times of challenge I’ve pushed myself in asana practice to seek the strength to face my life challenges off the mat. As I learned to handstand, forearm balance, etc. I realized that I was not as small, weak and helpless as I had assumed…. In fact, I have strength and vibrancy beyond my wildest dreams. Anything is possible if only I take a deep breath and step out of my own way. As I took the risk of teaching my first workshops, I found that I indeed do have some unique and important gifts in guiding people into a deeper practice. Yet, when I recently found myself facing one of the most emotional, mental, physically and spiritually challenging times in my 40 years of life I was dumbfounded to realize that hard asana was NOT going to get me through it… INSTEAD OF FUEL FOR STRENGTH… I NEEDED THE ANTIDOTE TO CHALLENGE.
During the month of July I cleaned out, packed up, purged and processed 15 years of marriage and the only home my two amazing children had called home for 12 years. I moved, and settled in a new space attempting to start a new chapter that would bring me fully to my Atman and true self (my teacher Ashely calls me a ‘passion flower’) at this point in life’s glorious journey. I felt like my guts, heart and soul had been wrenched violently from me. I was a shell of quivering vulnerability trying to put on a brave face for my two beautiful girls as they looked to me with innocent faces that have been through so much asking ‘Mom are we ok?’ I cried endless tears and barely slept. The thought of standing on my hands or putting a foot behind my head was ridiculous. AND SO… I sat, I breathed, I practiced GENTLY a few times a week and I did the work necessary to move forward.
Our practice of yoga teaches us to show up more firmly for ourselves at any point in life… regardless of challenge, joy, beauty or ugliness, we learn to seek the best path of resolution. At times we are called to seek challenging asana or push ourselves to more discipline and devotion in our practice. At times our practice needs to be about loving kindness and ease to balance out the tough spots and traumas of life. The path of healing in times of upheaval is often taking a step back and re-grounding in our root chakra, Muladhara. Symbolized as the lotus flower with four petals and the color red, the root chakra is the house of our basic needs for safety and stability. Big life changes often leave us feeling completely unsteady and out of touch with our sense of belonging on this earth. Cultivating a sense of grounding and downward flowing energy helps to root us more firmly and settle our emotions. Poses like shvasana and firmly rooted feet in tadasana are helpful. A simple seated pose with kriya for downward flowing energy reaching palms up and drawing them down the center line of the body pausing with palms face down on the thighs is also helpful to connect with our root chakra. Oils of sandalwood and rosemary will settle us through the olfactory system.
Taking Avahana Mudra, holding palms upward in front of the solar plexus, tuck the thumb in to the palm and bring the last three fingers to touch resting forearms against the abdomen. Affirm, ‘Through heartfelt acceptance, I open to receive all of life as a learning blessing.’ Notice how the breath in this mudra flows gently upward from your solar plexus to the chest. Take several breaths to embrace yourself as you are. Welcome your natural surroundings as they are, including those around you regardless of your feelings toward them.
Next time you are on the mat take the time to really notice and observe whether you need a gentle practice that serves as the antidote to your life or if you need to seek a challenging asana practice that will fuel you to step up to the plate off the mat. Open to embrace your own history, seeing that each chapter of your journey is essential to your own awakening and transformation. Hold yourself with gentle upturned palms, cradling your divine soul as your step through this doorway. Notice limiting beliefs that restrict you dissolving as you step through the door into the light.