Today I once took a class from a teacher I used to study with back when I was deeply immersed in my yoga studies before kids. She comes in from Italy every so often now and brings her Italian charm as well as her intense, commanding Iyengar teachings. Though she humiliated me a bit in the beginning of class as Iyengar teachers have a reputation for doing, I thoroughly enjoyed the class and walked away with something very valuable.
She came over to me as we were working in a pose and looked at me and said “When we are young we can get away with pushing ourselves but when we get older we need to get quite and still. We have to let the inner body expand out more. This is the work.”
Though I knew this on many levels, hearing it in that moment was invaluable. I could see so clearly how I was pushing, not yielding. I was willing my shoulders to open instead of inviting the opening to occur from within, from the breath and the ease. Because I was pushing, my shoulders were resisting more to opening. I always find this a great metaphor in yoga. The more we push against the resistance, the tighter and more resistant we become.
I have spent way too much of my life trying too hard and pressing my way through things. It’s part of how I have avoided feeling too much. I think it’s actually a symptom of our culture and how we are taught from a young age to avoid feeling and go forward.
I listened to what she said. I took it all the way in. I thought to myself, “This is why I came today. This is my yoga.” I never take these things for grated anymore, especially when there’s opportunity for growth. In that moment, I wanted to be done with this pattern. It was no longer serving me. It was a simple choice. I took a deep breath and softened from inside. I felt vulnerable, and some emotions surfacing around how much I’ve relied on that strength and used it as a way to protect my sensitivities. Then I softened again and opened to the energy expanding from inside out, allowing it to fill and expand.
An old pattern shed today with an old teacher that I have not seen in a long time. I am grateful for these teachers that have come and go through my years of practice, offering pieces of wisdom fitting together like pieces of a puzzle.
This afternoon I sat on my patio, aware of the birds and the fragrant, spring breeze. The sun was shining through the bright blue sky and the temperature was warm and comfortable. I was tuned into the peace that nature was revealing, receiving all that I needed. I exhaled my breath letting go of any effort to get somewhere or do something. I listened to the quietness and heard the call of the birds, singing the language of spirit and the beauty of life’s song.
Hearing them here in my backyard, nowhere else to go but here and now, I rested in the sweet opening to all of life and I was reminded that all is well in my backyard. All is well in me. At least for this moment and any moment that I choose to invite the opening.