Easy to say, but not so easy to do. How often do we plan something, then find that our careful plans are thwarted? How often do we have expectations of ourselves or others, then find that we/they don’t live up to those expectations? Generally, we like to feel that we’re in control and don’t like it when we feel out of control.
Remember the river, and go round the obstacles, rather than fight with them. Pause, take a breath and accept.
Yesterday evening, I went to my yoga class (as a student), and found that our room had been double-booked. The venue had another room, but it would take a while to prepare. So my teacher went with the flow. She could have got angry and sent everyone home, but instead, as it was a sunny evening, we did the first part of the class outside. Then calmly came back to the other room when it was ready. It was also a challenge for everyone attending the class. We’re all creatures of habit, choosing the same spot in the same room. So to be faced with going outside, and then a different room isn’t easy. Resistance kicks in, and we think, ‘oh no, it will be cold’, ‘people might see me if we’re outside’, ‘ why did this have to happen?’……… and I’m sure you can think of some others. Pause, take a breath and accept. Enjoy all the benefits of practicing outside on the grass, with trees all around, the blue sky and sunshine.
In my classes, we’ve been working with some seated forward bends, which can teach us about resistance and going with the flow. Accept where you are, breathe into the stretch and gently encourage the body to relax. Let go of the expectations and enjoy where you are at this moment.
See some reflections on listening to your body in the sitting forward bend from one of my friends.
Water has so many images associated with it. Associated with the tears of our emotions, water can be calm, gently flowing or raging like a stormy ocean. Invigorating, cleansing, refreshing – you probably have some words of your own. Reflecting on some of these associations can enhance our yoga practice. Yoga can help to smooth troubled waters and to balance the ups and downs of our emotions. The moon sequence is particularly good for this.
“You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.” ~Jon Kabat-Zinn
The warrior of light sometimes behaves like water, flowing around the obstacles he encounters.Occasionally, resisting might mean being destroyed, and so he adapts to the circumstances. He accepts without complaint that the stones along the path hinder his way across the mountains.Therein lies the strength of water: it cannot be shattered by a hammer or wounded by a knife. The strongest sword in the world cannot scar its surface.
The waters of a river adapt themselves to whatever route proves possible, but the river never forgets its one objective: the sea. So fragile at its source, it gradually gathers the strength of the other rivers it encounters.
And, after a certain point, its power is absolute.
From Manual of the Warrior of Light by Paulo Coelho
Yoga encourages us to go with the flow and be flexible. Sometimes, when you’re stiff you might try and push yourself into a posture, which invariably doesn’t work. If you accept, relax and breathe into the stretch, you’ll find the stiffness starts to melt away, little by little, working gently with your body. And if the tightness in your body remains, accept that, work around it and develop your own inner strength to find the stillness and peace within you.
In Dru yoga, we work with the flowing warrior posture to develop that inner strength and use it so we can help others.
When you’ve not ridden a bike for over 30 years, it might not seem so easy! The first challenge is getting over all the self-limiting thoughts like ‘I’m too old’, ‘look at all those fit young guys – I’ll look stupid’. Then the fears of falling off and hurting yourself, losing control and careering off the path, or just not being able to do it any more. Thinking about how you’ll ache the next day. And all those thoughts happening in the flash of a second, so almost without being aware of it, you say, ‘Nah, forget it ‘.
But what if you can catch those thoughts, challenge them, and replace them with positives? Then you can think, ‘No, you’re never too old’, ‘Who’s going to be looking at me anyway?’. ‘What if it all comes back to me, and I enjoy it?’ and ‘It’ll be good for me’. At least then, you’ll have a go and give yourself the opportunity.
Very similar thoughts can go through your head when thinking about a yoga class, or returning to any sort of physical exercise after a break. Yoga can help you become aware of your thoughts and to challenge them, so that your life becomes healthier, more free and enriching. In a yoga class, you can challenge yourself in a safe environment, and do things that you wouldn’t have thought possible.
As someone who’s struggled with fear and self-limiting thoughts for a long time, it felt really exhilarating to be riding that bike! (I know the picture doesn’t prove it, but I did, honest. And the number of my bike, that I’m pointing at – double-o seven).
With a full moon today, we’re taking inspiration for the class from the cool, tranquil energy of the moon. Dru yoga has a wonderful moon sequence (chandra namaskara), which helps to soothe mind and emotions by calming the sacral chakra and combining a flowing breath with the movements. Particularly useful at the time of the full moon when you can feel over emotional and sensitive.
Below is an extract from a moon-inspired meditation that I came across recently that suggests reflecting on the moon can help us to accept our own ups and downs, light and dark sides because we are all full, rounded and whole.
“During its different phases, the moon reflects both feminine and masculine energies. From a faint glimmer to a brazen spectacle, the moon’s appearance is at the mercy of its cyclical nature in the universe. We see it as a shy, secretive crescent moon one day or an undeniably assertive full moon at its peak, yet it actually does not change at all. What changes is only how it appears to us……….
The quiet shadows or the robust roundedness of the moon reveal an interesting comparison to the cycles of our own lives. Just as a crescent moon appears mysterious, we may appear shy or hidden and only reveal a glimmer about ourselves. Other times we feel as if we’ve walked into the spotlight completely open and exposed. By honouring the phases of our own cycles, we can understand that an ebb and flow between the delicate and the bold is a natural part of life………..
Meditations on the moon help us to embrace and balance our feminine and masculine yin-yang like qualities. By trusting our cyclical position in the universe, we can gracefully accept the high and low tides of life and simply honour them as temporary phases. Most importantly, we’ll remember that like the moon, how we appear to the rest of the world does not change the fact that we are always very, very whole.”
Jill Lawson writing in Om Magazine