Forceful yoga

tear off the maskI was listening to a senior teacher talking recently about her background in dance and music and performance and wondering how to relate to that. I am not an exhibitionist or a performer. I write an anonymous blog. I prefer to be a silent witness in the back corner. Barely seen, not heard. My social interactions are most comfortably among a small group of friends. I guess I’m what you’d call an introvert. It’s become quite a fashionable thing these days, or so it would seem from the number of books recently published on the subject. But that doesn’t make it any more comfortable.

I force myself to go to yoga class regularly, rather than practising on my own. I often force myself to practise at the front of the yoga room. When discussion is expected in class, I force myself to comment, to participate actively. I doubt that many people recognise these behaviours for what they really are, that they are forced acts of courage and deliberate presence. They don’t know that I stop breathing if I know my teacher is watching my practice and that I feel disconcertingly vulnerable in Taḍāsana, where there’s no particular shape to hide within. I don’t know if all this forced effort is good for me. Let’s call it cultivation of opposites (pratipakṣa bhāvana) and I can pretend it’s part of my yoga practice! I know teachers like to say encouragingly that you don’t have to become a hermit in the Himalayas to practise yoga — but sometimes I think I’d quite like to! 😉

just writeNow I’m moving out of my comfort zone further. I’ve forced myself to pitch a small piece of writing to a major yoga blog and I’ve also been commissioned to write some stuff on philosophy for a smaller player. All under my own name. The desire to share ideas with others and the hope that they might be useful for someone else overrides my reticence.

I’m laughing as I observe my little acts of public daring because ironically I think if this all comes off I will end up looking massively confident, even show-offy in the eyes of others. Hubby says I look this way already. I suppose that’s his prerogative, because he knows me well and reads me like a book. He tells me that fact that I revise Sanskrit vocab between classes at the studio, that I have a regular private with my teacher, that I ask questions and speak up when something doesn’t make sense to me — that all this is not the behaviour of someone shy and introverted.

On the mat, where things sometimes reveal themselves in interesting ways, I got a very weird assist in Vira 3. Fingertips pointing backwards held by my teacher’s hands as I leaned forward into space: without him I’d be toppling forward into a serious faceplant,  but instead I’m supported to take that extra millimetre or two of daring, and I feel like I’m flying high, that extra millimetre suggesting a whole universe of possibilities ahead of me. Whhheeeeeeee!

So maybe the acts of daring can be more fun, and feel less forced? I do have lots of support around me, I just don’t lean on it very often. That millimetre of trust was immense.

2 thoughts on “Forceful yoga

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  1. Recently started experimenting with putting myself out there on instagram… to capture my rekindled love for the saree. And, it’s been a huge reveal. Most of the time, I hide behind and that also prevents connection with others. Our common vulnerabilities really only ever need the heart to communicate. It would be a delight for anyone who reads you. 🙏

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  2. I keep hearing the refrain of “svadhyaya pravacaneca” from the Taittiriya Upanishad… I can’t just study and keep it all for myself! (Which can be a tendency.) The other side of my personal practice is putting any insights I might have gleaned out there (when my understanding is “ripe”). Or, to quote my teenage idol, Cat Stevens, “I can’t keep it in, can’t keep it in, I gotta’ let it out… gotta’ tell the world, world’s gotta’ see, see all the love, love that’s in me…” !

    Liked by 1 person

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