Back in September 2016 I started to practice Yoga.
On my first class, my teacher made a point of sitting me down and asking a few questions. Firstly with regards to my health in general and medical history to understand any possible complications that might arise from the practice. After that the main question was the why: “Why are you here?”
That took me aback as it is a very important question that I had not really contemplated before. After pondering for a few moments, I explained that the main reason for me being there had to do with all the reading and information I had gathered and how yoga and meditation were intrinsically related and how I wanted to explore that link. I also expressed the wish to keep my flexibility and improve my balance (in more ways than one).
Every single class starts by calming down and connecting to our motivation – Why is it, that on that particular day, at that particular time, we chose to be there? I find that to be an equally empowering and daunting question.
Sometimes the answer is nothing more than finding an oasis in a week of too much, others just the simple desire to connect to my body and mind, or just a yearning to stretch, laugh and meditate in a group. But (and contrary to many classes I attended during my life) never because I feel obligated to.
Whilst practising, we are regularly prompted to remind ourselves of the reason for being there and then, and amazingly (or not) the practice becomes more meaningful. I find that this question, with regards anything one does, is enabling – If one connects with one’s motivations for doing something, anything, one is more empowered to do them.
Other frequent instructions during class come in the form of “Listen to your body”, “If you prefer, you can do it this way or this one”, “It’s your practice”. It is an unconventional form from my understanding of ‘lesson’, but so much more enabling. I practice amidst a group sharing similar values, mindset, objectives and the collective energy is often palpable, but it’s still my individual practice and I get to choose how to approach it.
I find the structure of each class to be quite effective. We start by sitting down on the mat and discussing “our week” – this can take between 5 to 30 minutes and is often the most rewarding moment of the practice. We then meditate for a few minutes before starting the ‘breath focused body motioned postures’. We always finish with another moment of meditation/relaxation that allows me to walk out straighter and lighter.
The yoga community I am involved with has already brought great value to my life. The body and mental stretching, the weekly sharing of our endeavours and concerns, the amazing meal we shared at D. and B.’s house whilst engaging in prolific conversations. Resources (books and websites) are commonly exchanged and a small number of lives keeps being improved.
Sometimes whilst meditating, I have had brief moments where I am not thinking nor focusing on the breath – I simply am (sounds corny, but I have no other way of putting it). These are moments that probably last the blink of an eye, but are experienced with such intensity, pureness and clarity that they perceivably last longer. These are worth more than hours of “worldly” pleasures and provide me a mere glimpse of my mind’s capabilities.
Like in so much else that we treasure, I try to hold on to these, but like memory… to pursue it is to lose it. ‘Letting go’ is a practice I am still a long way to master.
A few weeks ago, during my yoga class I had an amazing moment. Whilst doing the crow-pose I had such a moment, one where there was no one else in the room, there was no room for that matter. I didn’t feel the usual pain or discomfort in my wrists and there wasn’t even a sense of “I”. All there was, was a simple strong balanced union with everything… I felt earthed. Clarity, balance, strength, union and limitless possibility reigned supreme for an instant. Again, corny I know, but I lack the skill to put in the right words.
From the experience of others, I “knew” that there was a strong link between the practices of meditation and yoga. Now, for the first time, my own experience has confirmed these claims. Can’t wait to have such more validations
What is my motivation for doing yoga?
I want to deepen the knowledge of my body and mind. By mindfully practising my flexibility and twistiness, I want to be aware of my breath, every bendy and stretchy moment and expand on my mind’s capabilities. I aspire to grow my knowledge on the body/mind association.
When it comes to the body, we all have an idea of how far it can go, or what “tricks” it can do. Over the past 8 months though, I have been experiencing the inaccuracy of my preconceptions and it has been an enjoyable learning curve full of surprises.
The mind is a harder beast to tame, but I’m working on stretching it farther than my body.
Fundamentally, I want this practice to help me become a better person.
A wordless practice
A few weeks ago, we had a silent practice. As we sat discussing the week’s and mind’s endeavours, one of the students mentioned there was too much noise in her life. My experience of what happened after that is something worth registering.
There was no preceding arrangement to conduct a silent practice. Initially, our teacher J., instructed us on the next pose and what leg to move but then silence, unannounced (how could it be otherwise?) and effortlessly, took hold of the class.
The triggers to change position and verify the flow for the next pose were all based on watching and sensing the teacher or student next to me and also on what my body told me should come next (it’s my practice after all). Having no words spoken allowed me to listen to the breath and better realise (and feel) how inhaling and exhaling affected the flow of each movement.
All in all it was quite the experience. Unplanned, unrequested and that grew organically. All 4 of us were quite happy and accomplished with the result. No words were needed to realise this.