Saturday, August 8, 2009

Strength through stillness

I've been doing yoga on and off for about 8 years, starting with Hatha Yoga - it's the calmer, more serene variety that most people associate with yoga, though there's many, many different versions. And for me, it's my happy, comfy place to always come back to.

I recently came across that is also available as iTunes podcasts, complete with slide shows and/or a pose guide - the narrators have soothing, encouraging voices and makes for a very happy, short session (I'm all about the efficient, 30 min or less workout!).

I've made it habit over the last couple of months to do one session over the weekend and today's "class" was the gentle hatha flow #2.

It never ceases to amaze me how my body reacts and responds to certain poses. There are some that are freeing and make me feel strong, energized, or centered. Others make me feel confined, trapped, or insecure. Sometimes the same pose that brought me strength can bring conflict the next time.

On more than one occasion a tear has escaped for no apparent reason (and not from pain. LOL!) only for the moment to pass just as quickly.

Today was one of those days. I started into a pretty benign pose - the camel - and suddenly my heart started to race, my limbs were shaking and then the narrator - it was Jackie for today's class - calmly instructed, "when you encounter resistance, breathe, back out a bit and then ease back into it."

How did she know?!

I did and felt better. (And the irony of experiencing resistance in a pose all about opening up my heart wasn't lost on me... but that's another story for an other time.)

A bit later, Jackie shared, "as new feelings, new sensations, new thoughts come up, let them wash over you leaving an imprint and let them move on. Don't judge, don't dwell, just acknowledge them and move back to the stillness of your breath."

Near the end, my Mugginskitten decided to help out with the relaxing and focusing by allowing me to pet him as my meditation (he's a very helpful kitten). I was still dwelling on the two statements above and how it really applies to so many aspects of our life, especially when we're in the midst of any change: "when you encounter resistance"... there was no "if" in that statement, resistance is a given as anyone trying to change a longtime habit can attest. How you react to that resistance makes all the difference.

I loved the matter of fact yet calm way Jackie addressed it - breathe, step back, then ease back into it.

How many times have you tried something new and found it to be unbearably difficult that first time? Yet, if you managed to try it a 2nd or 3rd time, it got easier each time? Same principle - the resistance is less each time you step back and ease back into it.

The second statement again acknowledges that random thoughts and sensations will come up - fear, doubt, encouragement, distraction, etc. Instead of resisting them, let them come but step back and let them move past you. Let it happen as if it were happening to someone else so you can "see" the thoughts and feelings objectively.

And above all else: Breathe.

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