Yoga…and blogging…as “labs” for life

Welcome to my blog.

I’m starting what I hope will be an ongoing and rich conversation to explore, expand and deepen the insights that begin in my Anusara Yoga classes and personal practice.  Why?  Because I know these sparks are going somewhere, and I know that to burn and take off they need the air that comes with discussion, and the fuel that is provided by a chorus of voices.  So please read, and ponder, and contribute your perspective when moved to do so.

I like to think of the yoga practice as a laboratory.  Remember in high school science, how one period or so a week was a “lab” period?  You put the textbook away, you pulled out all the tools on the list and you followed a set of instructions meant to lead you to some outcome – the formation of charcoal from wood in a test tube maybe, or the revelation of a frog’s innards.  Sometimes you got to the desired result.  Sometimes missteps along the way took you somewhere else – which supposedly was okay, so long as you observed and recorded what happened and made some sense of it.  And sometimes there wasn’t actually a desired result, you were just supposed to combine a bunch of chemicals in different ways and write down, “it turned pink” or “it started fizzing!”  Regardless of the result, you learned something – ideally something that was useful in another experiment on another day, or even better, useful in your life.

That’s the kind of lab I have on my mat.  And it’s a good thing too, because I need as much help as I can to navigate this life thing with style and grace.  This past weekend I attended a yoga workshop with Desiree Rumbaugh (an Anusara rock star!), who shared with us that lately she likes to say, “life is my career.”  I like that.  Because it means that living well – wide awake and aware and open to the full range of experience – is of the utmost importance.  It means that it is a project I undertake with passion and commitment.  It means that it’s going to be a long and winding road to be sure.  And if that is the case, I’d better be able to do some research in a safe environment…which is where the yoga mat comes in.

Pinchamayurasana (forearm stand) was just about the hardest “foundational” pose for me to do.  For the longest time (we’re talking years here…) I couldn’t figure out why.  I kicked into handstand the first time I tried; I was plenty strong and completely dedicated to working on it, what was the problem?  Well, the problem was the “working” piece.  I gritted my teeth, did as much muscle energy as was humanly possible and hugged to the midline like nobody’s business…and it didn’t work.  I am sure my teachers said “soften” and “surrender” hundreds of times, but I obviously didn’t hear them.  Until one day I did.  I stopped trying so hard.  And I melted.  And I did the pose.  Hmm.  Driving home I had one of those “sparks” of insight that I’m setting out to explore in this blog.  This particular spark said, “hey maybe this over-efforting thing is happening in your search for a job as well.”  At that time I had my head stuck out way in front of my neck and spine, in the way that people who are seeking so hard present themselves when they want to find something so badly.  I was looking and looking and looking and finding nothing meaningful – probably because I was moving so quickly from my ego that I couldn’t have seen anything even if it had presented itself several times.  I wondered what would happen if I stopped trying, and waited for something to come to me, rather than me to it.

And nothing happened for a while.  Few aspects of life run on the timeline that my individual self wants them to run on!   Then one day a year or so later my friend Cate emailed me out of the blue – while I was living out of the country, no less – and asked me if I wanted to buy and run our local yoga studio with her.  Yes, I did.  And that has been incredibly meaningful.

Right…soften, stop trying so hard, open to grace, and see what comes in on its currents.

That’s what I mean about the lab.  Without my yoga practice I might have figured that out, but I doubt it.  I think I might still be scrapping and struggling for everything I get, rather than receiving all that comes my way.  One pose, one struggle, one spark, then one massive insight.  Worth every moment of regular practice that led to it.

I have sparks like that every day. I’ll work them out though my body on the mat.  And then I’ll keep them smoldering through my fingers in this blog.  That’s the plan.

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~ by bridgetannlyons on November 23, 2010.

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