My three day yoga immersion is approaching and I have to say I am scared.
What felt at the time of booking like a bold step forward now feels like a blind leap into the unknown. I guess the metaphor of an immersion requires you to be out of your depth. And for this babycrow the feeling is very much leaving the relative safety of my home studio nest and taking a solo flight in a different environment with a new group of people, an unknown teacher, unfamiliar practices.
My teacher’s advice of course (sometimes talking to him is like hearing my own brain speak — but I’m less likely to contradict him!) was not to waste energy worrying about it in advance, but just to go and be open to the experience. Whatever happens. No judgements required.
Ha! yes, of course — it’s all yoga if you approach it in the right spirit. I know this. It’s not all about achieving an unsupported handstand or other fancy asana! My yoga has so far been very much a practice of quiet courage and faith. Each time I turn up at the studio, each time I step onto the mat. Each first inhale and exhale warms my body, draws my mind inward and sighs away the doubts and questions.
Surely going to an immersion is just a slightly more dramatic version of that.
So what is this anxiety I feel? I’ve been hiding behind the practical concern of whether I have enough energy and muscle strength to carry me through a more intense amount of asana practice given my general state of health. But recently as I sit in meditation and listen in to my thoughts and as I observe my reactions in asana practice in class I am increasingly aware that there’s also a whole lot of very judgemental stuff floating around between my ears.
I pinpointed it (there’s another metaphor — because this really did hurt like an incision!) when my teacher, seeking to reassure me, told me how fantastic the teacher is who’s leading the immersion. My reaction wasn’t to think what an amazing opportunity this was to learn from someone with such experience, knowledge, and wisdom. Oh no! My instant reaction, before I could catch it, was to suppose that I would be taking up a place of someone more worthy, more accomplished, more likely to benefit… someone who would in some way be more what the teacher wanted her students to be.
Thankfully deeper within I know this isn’t true. And just writing about it makes me chuckle at my own insecurities! My asana practice doesn’t look fancy. My strength and flexibility have obvious limits. But I don’t lack commitment. And I am brave in pursuing my truth and finding my practice. These worries and fears are surely a form of asmita (‘I am-ness’, the distorted sense of self, an arrogance almost). They clearly don’t serve me or my practice.
So I make my intention: I will practice with a solid humility that is founded on a pride in who I am and what my practice already is as much as a humble awareness of what I still have to learn.
Yoga today means balancing the paradox: there’s always more to learn, but I am always enough.