I Have Many Teachers.
A young and willowy, woman who is tall and long with a wise soul, often laughs at herself during class. An Anusara- trained teacher with an amazing voice who gives the best cues. He challenges me to move slowly and thoughtfully. My children grant lessons of patience, flexibility and unconditional love. I was a quick study for unconditional love, but the patience and flexibility was excruciating through relentless repetition. It wasn’t until I abandoned my idea of perfect that those concepts finally sunk in to the core of who I am.
All of those perspectives are practiced on my mat. I incorporate them into my asana. I practice patience for myself, for my sore knee, and all of my limitations. Flexibility in my postures, but also in my approach to them; can I take child’s pose when I lose my breath? Will I be rigid and power through? Can I listen to the teacher with intent? Can I practice unconditional love for my aging body? Can I use my tools? Can I focus? Can I soften? Can I?
Not long ago I taught yoga to a group of women at a half-way house. Recently released from prison, they were living in a confinement home run by nuns. One of the women was very fit and had little patience for learning pranayama or asana. She asked me “What is the point? It’s not a very good work out”. I am fond of saying that yoga is not a workout as much as a work-in. But this time, I told her “People always talk about getting a yoga butt. It’s not so much about getting a good butt. It’s more about getting your head out of your butt”. The nun who was practicing with us at the time ducked her head to smile. Yoga encourages us to WAKE UP. It’s about being present to yourself in all your imperfection. We practice yoga to be good at life.
I have made tremendous strides with my alignment and my awareness of where I am in space. In class I was instructed to move through a flow to a breath count of five in and five out. It is not easy. It was a revelation to me how slowing down can make things harder. At the end of class, I noticed I wasn’t alone in the struggle of slowing down. I think of the advice my mother once gave me. When angry, count to ten before speaking. I can’t always manage it, but when I do I always feel better. This is why I practice yoga.