Loosey-Goosey learns a lesson

by smartini on January 18, 2013

I had thought that using props for yoga was for the old or the inflexible. That if you needed to use a block or a strap or a bolster, it surely meant you weren’t as ‘good’, that you were a beginner. Then I had the fortune to spend a little time Jules Mitchell. Jules is a yoga teacher trainer and specializes in restorative yoga (which of course brings up another preconception I had – that restorative yoga must be only for the injured or weak). Well, a goal I have for myself, in fact one of my New Years resolutions for 2013, is to be able to do an un-assisted headstand by the end of the year. I know I can do this. I know that I have the physical ability, and that its really fear and uncertainly that are keeping me from being able to do it. But something very cool happened when I had the patience and willingness to dig in, try something new and listen to what Jules had to say on the subject of props and yoga. She had me attempt a handstand against the wall in her studio. What she remarked on right away is that I am very flexible (in fact, I am so flexible that most of my joints easily hyper-extend when pushed). I did know this about myself and always thought of it as an asset, that it made me a natural little yogi. And to a certain extent it does. But it must be in balance with stability and strength in order to do things like balance poses. And that’s where using props comes in. She showed me several exercises I could do that would build the strength I’ll need to stabilize my muscles. So, with this new insight, and willingness, I can begin a new practice and maybe will be able to do some things I previously didn’t think possible in my yoga journey.
This learning is not just about my physical yoga practice though. It is quite clearly a metaphor for my spiritual life and evolution as well. Just as one of my most favored attributes as a student of yoga is my flexibility, one of my fondest attributes as a seeker of truth is my openness, flexibility and eagerness to observe and go along for the ride. This way of being has served me well. I live a carefree life filled with joy and freedom. I quite happily live in an ever-evolving, if un-known, adventure. I’m open to what the universe resents me and I’d like to think I am fairly good at making the most of each opportunity. But here again, like in my yoga practice, this flexibility is a double-edged sword. And I see how in my spiritual life it means that my challenge and area that needs strengthening is to remain centered, to have the core strength to remain aligned with my own unique and individual higher purpose. So, if using specific exercises and props will provide me the means to build that strength in yoga, than what tools can I use for my spiritual practice? I’m exploring meditation as a means to this end. Now, how to actually STILL the mind to access that inner connection. I’m starting with 5 minutes per day. 5 minutes is barely a breath in the scheme of things, but you would be surprised at how many times in these first few 5 minute increments, I’ve found myself wandering. Thinking of my day, of my last interaction or my next conversation, of what I could have said or should have said. Of what I’d like to eat for dinner or that my ear itches.
In my yoga practice, I am starting with holding the cork block at 90 degrees in front of me for 2 minutes, doing a 2 minute plank and and 3 minutes headstand. In my spiritual practice, I’m starting with 5 minutes of meditation. We’ll go from there. It’s a start!

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