It was one of those magical practices when the yoga happens and all you can do is let it. Let the breath come in and go out, let my limbs find their shape in each asana, let my body feel where to go — bodily sensations only, no brain involved. The teacher’s words resolved themselves in my movements. For once my brain offered no alternative mental commentary through its questioning and analysing. No conscious choices in my practice. No control of my practice.
But wait, I loooove being in control. “I control, therefore I am”!
Well, I was feeling so sick, I wonder that I got myself to class at all. I might easily have stayed in bed, but I hoped some yoga would help. I wanted to be in the yoga room. I wanted to hear my teacher’s words. I wanted to be around yogis, to hear their breath and feel their quiet focus.
But beyond that I didn’t want anything. I didn’t want anything for my own practice.
On hearing that I wasn’t feeling well my teacher advised just to breathe. The sort of reductionist advice that used to perplex me, annoy me even. But slowly, slowly it’s starting to make ‘real’ sense. There’s a weird six month time lag between him speaking and me really hearing.
I came to this practice with the heartfelt (not head-felt) intention to be honest and I was at peace with the fact that this might mean my practice was lying down breathing and nothing more. As it turned out I rested when I needed to but mostly the practice just took care of itself. Sure there was effort: I moved, I sweated, I lost my breath and had to find it again. But I was in my body, not in my head. This effort arose from the fulfilling of physical impetus rather than thoughts about how I wanted my practice to go. When you expect little, everything else is a delicious bonus.
I am filled with gratitude. Gratitude for yoga, for my teacher’s care and acceptance, my fellow yogis for showing up for their practice. I am also grateful that my practice, this daily diligence and discipline, has brought me to the point where I can start to ease myself into some bigger picture, the picture where it’s not all about me and what I want.
There’s a practice of surrender that is more profound than any practice of effort.
And this feels very strange.