Sometimes it takes most of the class; sometimes I don’t get there at all. It happened briefly towards the end of this morning’s class. A little voice inside said “Stop fighting against what is.” I relaxed and breathed into the stretch and the joint. Something shifted. The stretch began to feel even pleasurable. Ah, yes, I thought. “Just breathe, be present to what is and enjoy.” Five minutes later the yoga class was over. At that point, my challenge becomes one of not beating myself up because I spent almost the entire class preoccupied; forgetting to breath into the pose and fighting against the limits of my body. The purpose of yoga, as I understand it, is to do the opposite. And yet, even though I practice regularly, I still have this to learn.
My challenge, and I don’t think I’m alone in this, and this is part of the purpose of yoga, is to bring that same awareness to all of life. We practice in the class, but that serves to prepare us to be open to life, to what is; to breathe into it regardless of any judgment we might want to bring to it. I know this, but I keep forgetting and need to be reminded.
I have learned that when I breathe into a painful physical or emotional situation in my life, as I breathe into the discomfort of a pose, it somehow softens. That behaviour seems counter to my very nature. When something happens that hurts in whatever way, I tense and tighten – I “fight” against it. I need constant practice to remember that there is an alternative way that is far gentler and ultimately healing.
I see this as a spiritual practice that continues to be more and more necessary as life changes. Even the change of seasons can bring a resistance. While I love the fall season, part of me resists the end of summer and the herald of winter. Over the past weeks a number of folks both older and younger than me have commented on the challenges that comes with aging or chronic health problems. These things can be very hard to accept. In my most ‘aware’ moments, when I am able to “stop fighting against what is” something inside does shift, and for a short time, sometimes even longer, a new level of acceptance brings peace. May you experience such moments with the twists and turns of your life and seasons.