I remember many years ago attending some of my first yoga classes and enjoying the body work: stretching and strengthening, developing heightened awareness of my body in an asana (posture) and building my skills in concentration. The instructor was excellent at directing the students and demonstrating techniques to improve or modify for individual needs.
As we got closer to the end of the session I new that Meditation and Relaxation was to come and it took me so long to enjoy these elements of the whole practice of Yoga. In fact it took me years! I used to sit with a straight spine, legs crossed (Sukhasana) and wondered what I was supposed to experience, my mind wandering this way and that and never stilling enough to feel like I was ‘in the right place’.
Laying in Savasana for deep relaxation the same difficulties as I fidgeted and twitched , scratching and trying to find just the right position to be absolutely comfortable. What an effort and how challenging I found this stillness. With the body not feeling at ease the mind would wander from one thought to the next!
I always remember this time in my own Yoga journey as I see new students finding their way too in these often difficult and confronting components of the yoga class. I remember my teachers reminding me that…..
” if we did not take the time for the body and mind to be still then we are not practicing Yoga, we are only exercising” !!
I believe that we all have stories and experiences that are similar and the skill of a yoga teacher to guide us carefully into stillness is a huge part of the willingness to let go. Allowing the journey to unfold without expectations and to know that every day will perhaps bring a different experience…. no attachments, perhaps that is the secret!
So as soon we can all learn to have no expectations and loose our attachments to an outcome then perhaps the body will relax ( and why wouldn’t it?) and the mind will stop searching for another distraction.
As I try to guide my own students into a relaxed state of being, it is with great awareness that the real challenges in a yoga class are not the physical postures and stretches, but the willingness to be still, both body and mind! This requires the most effort, but take heart….. we get better at it, as we learn to just ‘let it all go’!
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