Is “stamina” a heart quality?

As an instructor in the Anusara Yoga tradition, I am supposed to infuse every class I teach with what John Friend calls a “heart quality.”  Heart qualities are myriad – joy, confidence, persistence, respect, reverence – the list goes on and on.  I enjoy this part of teaching, as it helps me and my classes transcend the physicality of the asana practice.  It brings more life and meaning to the practice and often helps everyone in the room walk away from class just a little more awake.

Yesterday I wanted to guide a practice focused on “stamina.”  Only, as I was driving to the studio, with challenging stamina-sequence (read: lots of surya namaskar) coalescing in my head, it occurred to me that stamina might not be a heart quality.  It’s a body quality for sure, and a physical trait, but maybe not a heart quality.  Not ideal, seeing as I was only a couple miles from the studio when this dawned on me.  Oops…plan B?  Or maybe not…

My boyfriend has been out of town the past few days, having flown back to Michigan after finding out that his 96-year old grandmother broke her femur and was hospitalized for surgery.  It quickly became apparent that she would not recover from this surgery, so his trip’s focus has been to say goodbye to her and to help his family do the same.   As so often happens in modern times, her death has become a somewhat complicated process.  There are so many decisions to make on behalf of the person who suddenly is no longer capable of making them.  There are many family members, doctors, and hospice staff involved, each with their own opinions and needs.  And the process may, in fact, take a long time.  Meanwhile, Tim and his immediate family have stayed by her bedside without fail.  They want her to be comfortable, they want her to feel loved, and they want her to accompany her through this transition.  So there has been someone with her all day and all night, even though she has been sleeping for most of that time.  The healthy family members have been missing meals and hours of sleep to be with her, and they are prepared continue to do so as long as necessary.

I could hardly find a better example of stamina as a heart quality.  Life doesn’t always go as planned, even when it is winding down.  The ability to pace yourself through challenges – and even through good times – and stay present in each and every moment is a skill.  I know for me, at least, it could use some cultivation.  Hence the “practice” part of the practice.  I’d like to think that yet another chaturanga at the end of the hour, or that third minute in handstand has something to teach me.  Something about being with discomfort and hanging in there, or something about staying with a challenging situation simply because it is the right thing to do.  I can recognize the need to step it up when my asana practice pushes me.  I just hope I can do so outside of the studio with as much grace as this family has.

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~ by bridgetannlyons on December 29, 2010.

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