Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Whew! Where did a week go???

For the past few weeks, I've been focusing on all that I am grateful for within and surrounding the Ashtanga practice. It's interesting to me that I'm in the midst of a longish stretch of both physical and mental discomfort in practice and yet I'm at the same time more grateful than ever that it is there.

During the actual asana practice I feel like I'm alternating between a piece of stiff taffy being stretched from both ends that just won't give and a porcupine with all quills out and on guard. Right about the time for an attempt at kapotasana, I feel like I'm choking. From the outside, it sounds like the breath is light and even. From the inside, it feels like I've swallowed an apple whole and it's stuck.

...and yet I wouldn't trade any of that for anything. Amidst all the tugging and self-resistance is emerging a clearer picture of what exists below the surface. I can choose to leave all the "stuff" there, hidden underwater. I can stuff in down farther, gloss it over, or paint it a different color, but it is still there. Likewise, I can find some activity to dull the discomfort of what is (food, drink or internet anyone?!), but that doesn't change it.

Tim Feldman had a great article on Elephant Journal recently that very articulately discussed the perception that a yoga practice should somehow always leave you "happy".

Tim has this to say: "Yoga aims at bringing light towards what really is and to find the courage to see clearly and the peace to accept whatever arises without the necessity to remove or change it. If grief is there, if anger is there or if pride is there, our yoga practice is sure to slowly strip away the layers of subconscious veils in a timely fashion, appropriate to what we can handle. Methodically, like a surgeon’s scalpel we uncover years of psychological armor, escapism and denial and by doing so we slowly reclaim a life beyond it all.

 Even though we rarely like to admit it, we are all the kind of person who runs away from our fears, denies our anger and blocks out our selfishness only to justify the whole story to your own advantage."

Mental and physical ease in asana practice come and go. They change with the seasons and they change as life changes.

I might add to what Tim explored in his article. For sure the comings and goings of discomfort as layers are peeled back is a normal part of an honest practice....it may also be one of the only places I will not be judged for it. There is little space among work, home, and other life interactions for staying with the "unpleasant" emotions. We are encouraged to change them, fix them as they make everyone else uncomfortable too...

For brief moments in practice lately, I've a had a pause where I remembered at that moment, I didn't need to fix anything, I could just be there. That time was dedicated to just being there. It was in those moments where the pressure to "fix it" lifted, that there was quiet and ease. For that and for all that practice brings up, I am grateful.