Yoga is hands-down, meditation in motion.
I step onto my mat. My body is tight. My mind is full. Endless thoughts take me everywhere but where I am right now… and the yoga instructor guides me (us) right into abdominal work. I feel annoyed, though I love ab work. I need a few minutes to quiet down my “monkey mind” with at least a brief interval of a breath/meditative exercise. Thoughts like, “good grief, we didn’t even do a meditation moment to try to quiet our minds” and, “I can’t do abs yet, I need to build body heat first” join the thousands of other thoughts already hindering my ability to be in the present moment. And… we begin to flow, we begin to move into what feels like the “hottest” Hot Yoga class I have done in a very long time.
And then the alchemical magic of yoga begins. My body takes over and begins to ease into the class and the instructions the teacher offers. This is the magic of yoga that just takes me aback during every class, because though I walk in distracted, though endless thoughts preoccupy my mind, the breath work of yoga shifts me into my body and out of my head. The endless thoughts in my mind settle down.
Known as a meditation in motion, yoga trains it practitioners to breathe with each movement, with each posture, so that the breath becomes the focal point, not necessarily the physicality of the practice. But with that said, while I focus on my breath, my body strives to find that proper alignment that offers up softness in what otherwise seems to be very challenging postures. “Pull the hip back… Ah, yes, now I can feel the strength in my back leg. Fold forward… Yes! I can feel my lower back let go. Squeeze your legs together tighter… OMGoddness, I’m doing a handstand by myself!” Synchronistically, the endless thoughts in my mind disappear and the body takes over, shifting, adjusting and moving deeper into the poses offered up, with the breath guiding the way. Freedom emerges. Freedom from the “thinking mind” that seems to never end ceases. Freedom opens up in the body, as it moves beyond what it ever thought possible.
Release. Let go. Open up. Be. Be with the struggle of the posture and just breathe. And herein lies the gorgeous metaphor of life-training that yoga offers. This IS why I love my yoga practice. When confronted by challenge in a posture, when my legs scream with pain, when my shoulders just want to drop from deep aching, the instructor guides me back to my breath. Find my breath and be with my breath. Let go of the thoughts that I can’t do the posture, let go of the thoughts that my body suggests I can’t bear, and go back to my breath. TRAIN myself to be with my breath, not my thoughts. Train myself to be with anything and everything that shows up on my mat… to train myself to be with anything and everything that shows up in my life.
Can I find softness in struggle? Can I open my heart, though I experience resistance in the moment? Can I find ease in the posture, in life, though the moment might suggest utter opposition? Can I take these lessons of “being with” what ever shows up on my mat, off my mat and into my world? This IS why I love yoga. This IS what yoga practice offers me, an endless opportunity to train myself to BE with whatever shows up in my life, to be who I want to be in the world from a place of creating, rather than a place of reaction.
And… every now and then someone may say, “you’ve got really great arms!”