Coming home

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I want to be comfortable. That is a pretty broad statement to say the least. I want to feel comfortable in my skin, in my mind, in my body and soul. Comfortable with me and who I am or who I continue to evolve into being.  It seems that my identity is caught up with what I do instead of who I am inside. I’m a mom, a daughter, a sister, a studio owner, a yoga practiioner, a woman, a friend and the list goes on with the outside things that I identify myself with. All great things of course and I am super proud of what I have accomplished. I will continue to forge ahead with these goals I have, however being comforable has this level of acceptance to it. Living in acceptance for the good and the bad, for the happiness and the sadness, for what you recieve and what you give. How comfortable are we with living in accectance for what is?

Going to India and practicing Ashtanga yoga is not necessarity the way be be comfortable. There is a lot that goes on from the first day in the Shala to the last days. I have to say that coming to Mysore this time was like coming home for me as there is this big family of people going through similar expereinces.  From the beginner to the more advanced practitioner, everyone is in this transformational mode.  Every student is focused inside the Shala. I personally think I know what to expect although we work to teach ourselves to let go of these expections. When we let go of expectations is when the yoga can begin.  Whan we let go of expectations we allow ourselves to transform.  Part of this transformation for me is what I call coming home.  When we let go of expectations we allow ourselves to evolve and grow.

It was interesting as this last month I realized that my self imposed limitations were just that and in my mind. There was this level of consistency that I experienced in my practice. It had to do with the physical asana, having just the right assistance where I needed it as well as doing what was expected. Mentally I was pretty consistent, except for the day when…well that’s another story. In any event, I felt surrounded by a support system inside this practice space. One of the shifts that happened was that mentally I tried not to judge my practice or get disappointed if something did not go as I expected or would have liked it to go. I made a pact with my mind that I would try to accept what happens on the mat and leave it at that. The first month, some emotions came up which I label the struggle.  So many judgments as well as other emotions kept creeping into my mind as I practiced.

So here I am feeling comfortable, trusting in the assistance I recieve daily when I need it. I remember to embrace the built in tools of the method. I am ready to do my backbends seeing the person who has been helping me consistently nearby, pretty much at my mat.  It’s so hot so I’m working to improve my breath as it gets fast and choppy. I have some preconceived notions about what ending well means in my practice. I drop back, come up. She hasn’t moved as she is patient. She encourages me with her eyes. I drop back again, come up and Sharath is there. This is not the plan I had in my head. Most of the times, I am very comfortable being taught by the wonderful teachers in the room who he has as his assistants. I have to clear my mind again from these thoughts. He stepped in because he knew I was getting very comfortable. I quickly decide that it’s enough of this dropping back so I cross my arms in preparation for the final backbend. He is ready for me although he would have waited for me to drop again. I figure, why would I do that and I decide I’d rather not. This is all in the time it takes for nod my head, cross my arms and ready my breath. I go back and we catch from the air just as I have been doing. He moves my hand up a little. I work with him as sometimes I shake my head no with others. I’m looking at my nose, trying to breathe the best I can.  When I come up, I don’t grab him this time. I’m pleased but truthfully I’m more relieved and maybe even surprised.  I get adjusted in the forward fold. This all left an impression, because I did not think I had much to do with this. Turns out it’s me that I have to trust. I say that Sharath is shedding some light in many ways and that day working with my mind was what I needed. It’s not about the doing but it’s about where is your mind. Can you really be one pointed and focused? Can you go beyond a self impossed limitation and be at home? I have to leave this experience here for now. I’m ready to come home in more ways than one.

Joy in the Process

Most times the valuable lessons are the ones when we are struggling, persisting and have the patience to keep working at something to reach whatever goal we had in mind. Every one has something different even though we are all in the same class. This is how it works in all Mysore rooms. I’m in the KPJAYI University right now where everyone has a different project. All of us are studying Mind Control through the various sequences and postures that are part of our personal practice. We all come together in the Shala to do our daily Sadhana and we are taking part in this Sangha. It’s effective and keeps us on the right path to this journey that we have come across called Yoga.

The journey for me this far has been one of self-discovery and change. The first month here I took the time to settle into my routine, do my practice and to heal. Healing was not going to be automatic but persistence and patience is built into the method to aid in this process. The consistency with the practice was the first key to new discoveries. Getting up the same time each day, eating properly for the practice, getting proper sleep and treating yourself with loving kindness sets up the environment for the best possible outcome. My best possible outcome this time around is only to feel at home in my body and to have peace in my mind.

Each day is truly different in this practice. Weak, strong, flexible and stiff, this practice does not lie. It reveals the process if you let it and it asks you to be patient. Today I fell down … twice. In the falling we get back up and in the missteps we aim to get back on track. The first fall was in balancing, which was early in the practice and in a posture I have been doing for a long time. I noticed Sharath call out the drishti in led yesterday, so I was changing it up and trying it out. I NEVER usually fall here and looking back I feel lucky I did not hurt anyone. This is happening with the eyes of my teacher Sharath on me. I’m also positioned in the first row just two mats from the middle.

This whole process of practice is not an easy thing. The mind tells you that you can’t or asks you why you want to do this. I know that I am better all around if I take practice and move into the challenges that I face. Today I wasn’t so sure that I wanted to do my last posture at all or I thought I could do it but not give to much energy to it.   Remembering that the method has these built in tools to help us focus I persisted when my mind was telling me something else.   Once again more lessons from my morning practice. I fell again doing something else. In the end I was able to finish and do what my practice calls me to do. Falling became something not so big a deal at all only to take lessons from it.

For me a lot of what I learn on how to deal with difficulties and challenges comes up on that rectangular mat I spend nearly 2 hours of every day on. Living in India helps with that as well and the life experience here is transformative. My sons are very supportive of my personal yoga journey however get somewhat annoyed when I use the asana practice to explain to them about hard work and persistence so I am careful not to mention asana and I do a pretty good job dancing around the subject when I’m trying to relate a personal experience these days. Today as my youngest struggled with overdue assignments and classes that are great but really difficult, I thought about my last posture. I told him keep at it, just keep at it and don’t stop. You will get through this and you will be glad that you did. I told him he might have to struggle a little, ask for help when you need that hand moved and someone will be there to pick you up if you ask them. Otherwise pick yourself up and keep moving forward. He’s encouraged because like me we are doing and studying what we love. It’s not easy but there is joy in the process.

 

Life in the Pause   

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Card from my son Parker

I’ve been reflecting these days on how when we stop to enjoy how we are getting to where we are going, life happens. In other words when we stop rushing around to one thing or another and take a pause we can experience life in a whole new way. I come from a place of being busy. Then when I trained myself to look at my life as FULL, I felt a little better. I mean it sounded better, it sounded pretty productive, however I think it was the same. I looked at my life in terms of how much I could get done. I measured my self worth from that with not much time to pause.

These days in India are full of self-reflecting. I have goals. I want to finish that epic novel, study, learn and make progress in what I do. I keep myself as a student of yoga here. In the meantime, I think that the real joy is in the process and in the learning, in the connections and in the experience. In terms of measuring progress, well that’s sort of objective, meaning it is not always this linear line that goes up. There is progress in every way we may be moving as wisdom and learning is there.

This week was full of surprises, synchronicity and special moments. They weren’t planned events so to say and they fed me in so many ways bringing joy and a sense of feeling connected. They happened in between my breaths as I took a minute to pause. It was from meeting a new group at a café for breakfast, joining a group on a walk around the lake, lively discussions for a late dinner, seeing old friends in new places, rooftop gatherings, saying yes to an adventure, to following the cue and seeing where you end up, it has all been wonderful and relaxed.

I think about the practice of asana and what Sharath says about patience in the method. It’s about patience in the method and enjoying the journey, our own personal journeys with the practice, and our own personal journeys in this life. I notice and am more aware of the silence in between the breaths and know that therein lies this pause where a lot of what we are yearning for lies. It’s quiet and reflective and peaceful. It’s not scary there; it’s living and experiencing who we are in the pause.

Signed,

Grateful One

It’s All Going to be Okay

It’s 10 days that I’m here in India with lots of things settling in now. I came here for healing, to practice with Sharath and to settle my mind. I have persisted, been patient and worked hard not to judge. The biggest issue was judging myself and not being as compassionate as I could. I have a strong faith in this practice as a healing one. The warmth here feels good on my bones.

The first week is hard for everyone. There is excitement and a continual letting go of any expectations. We are human, we get excited and we are hopeful. We want things to go well and then we are reminded that we are not in control. We just have to do our best everyday. We aim to do our best preparations and move forward.

Registration is always very exciting and there are lots of discussions around start time. I’m comfortable, tell Sharath that I’m in for 3 months and my times are as good as they can get, meaning there shouldn’t be too much in the way of moving me in the time that I am here.   It’s very early and the discipline of the practice starts just after New Year’s Day with led primary.

The consistency with practice is the healer. Each day I have a routine, which includes coffee, a light drip of a hot shower and a yin like session before walking to the Shala. It’s a short walk and I take it briskly as there is a slight chill in the air. I usually bundle up, which feels good. You can’t be attached to anything when you enter that room. You are the “one more” and you go where he nods you to go. Short one, tall one … I’m medium, so today he said tall one and I went as there were only 5 of us waiting. I was the tallest in that bunch! Of course, he did not miss to mention, “You are tall one?” Whatever. I rolled out my mat and smiled inside.

As I explored my final pose and figured I’d learned enough to move on, I went on to back bending. Today with the added poses of intermediate, I question my energy and the quality of my breath. I push up for one and Sharath is standing there. He is busy telling things to others waiting but he’s still at the edge of my mat. Even though back bending is your time, you have to do it without delay, so I go up again and then I am up, all the time working hard not to feel rushed and I still have to drop back on my own. One back, two back and he’s ready for me. I want to be ready so I take some breaths and he nods. He drops me back and on the final one I touch and I walk, he says a little more and I go as I am reminded when I did not keep going and he motioned to me how close I was last year with his thumb and forefinger. I was disappointed then, as I had not trusted myself or could not find the little bit more. This time, I trust, I’m taking charge of that nasagri drishti and I walk and walk and touch my heels. both sides. He’s pleased. No mater what, I am doing the work and it’s all going to be okay.

These things get you thinking. This practice gets you feeling. How does it keep working for me year after year? We keep learning from our experiences and then we continue to learn to surrender with faith and trust. Yes, It’s going to be okay, cause it has to be no matter what. There are lessons in the method all the time. It’s really all going to be okay.