The fall? Not the season, transatlantic friends. I’m waiting for the fall that follows pride. Because I’m feeling unusually proud of myself at the moment — in the balancing acts I’m currently managing, small steps in flowing a little more gracefully along with life, floating over some old obstacles that would have tripped me up headlong not so long ago (and will again in future, I’m sure, as soon as my attention wanders!).
Getting to class last night felt like a superhuman effort and I wasn’t really sure it was the right place to be. But sometimes the mat is just a laboratory, a testing ground for observations, and failed tests are still valuable learning moments. What is there to lose, after all? I don’t need to publish the results (oh, wait, I’m choosing to write a blog post.. 🙂 ). My yoga is just for me, of course.
There were plenty of testing moments during class to be sure, since the focus was on chaturanga, or more properly — since my teacher is master of breaking big stuff into digestible stages — how to lower down to the ground from plank maintaining good form all the way…. and perhaps to lift up.
So my experimenting was about seeing what strength my body had that evening — finding the truth between the extremes of expecting to it be weak but wanting it to be strong. And constantly re-examining, redefining, and refining this truth — each breath, each hold, each transition. Over and over. 100 minutes of a repeat experiment where the results meant everything and nothing. Where curiosity and wise choices were more important than attainment or perfection.
I’d reckon myself in the lower quadrant of strength in this class. And yet I like to think I’m a little higher up in terms of awareness and honesty. I’m not shy about modifications or props; the challenge there is simply about how to find the right actions of the pose in a modification, not so much getting the ego out of the way. In fact I have to remind myself regularly to go ahead and try a fuller expression, measuring where I am without the assumptions of where I’m not.
And observation of others was interesting too: nervous giggling at the idea we might mentally label using a block as being a wuss, so many anxious questions about whether their plank was ‘right’ or not, and some beautiful of-the-moment observations showing that some people were experimenting too, not just grinding through their habitual patterns of movement.
And I’m left with a bit of a yoga hangover today. The experience was so intense. I’m filled with wonder at the mystery of yoga, wonder at my teacher’s ability to hold this space, and a little wonder also at myself and the strange state I learn to cultivate, combining presence and continued awareness with some detachment and equanimity.
My most intense yoga moments always have an internal soundtrack of the guru mantra, running silently through me, through the whole of me. The rhythms and cadences of the syllables are the flow of breath and body, the trimurti manifests through repeated physical actions, and through the whole arc of class, until the dying moments when there is surrender to the guru principle, some cosmic force, some state of natural being that is beautifully beyond words. tasmai śri gurave namaḥ
This may be a grandiose-sounding blog for a little babycrow. But right now I just feel complete. The fall can wait. I hope when it comes it’ll find me still with a smile on my face!