Soft heart practice

Saturday morning class. An effort to get out of bed and roll across the hallway to where my mat and camera is set up. The strange world of online yoga. Some days it’s difficult to be a student like this; it would be easy not to bother. But I don’t escape my teacher’s eagle eye, even on zoom. She doesn’t allow me to be a bad student. Early in class she called me out in downdog — at the very moment when I was mentally urging her quicker through the 5 breath count and praying for the pose to be over. I was totally caught out being the lazy student! And actually I loved her in that moment for caring enough to bring me back to attention.

And she’s acute enough to know that I don’t usually need to be told more than once. All other comments during class were affirmations that my form was OK or were encouraging verbal modifications (eek, I felt sorry for the rest of the class who had to stay in Ardha Candra Capasana so long, while my pose got thorough attention!).

If this makes her sound like quite a stern teacher, it’s just because she’s serious about yoga. And around a pretty intense vinyasa practice, the theme of the class was actually a beautiful and tender one (tied to Beirut and other tragedies) about keeping a soft and open heart, about building our capacity for compassion. It’s her compassion for us that is behind her strict approach. By the time we got to savasana I felt subtly undone, unable to resist her insistence that I practise a different way, her reminder of the imperative to see the goodness and grace in oneself and all others.

As we finished the closing chant together, she brought us back to the theme of class and, seeming to look right into my eyes, offered the comforting advice “just one small step at a time”.

These words settled deeply within me and I have been hearing her voice in the hours since, carrying her message with me. This open-heartedness is something I must consciously remember to practise. I owe it to myself. Perhaps I might owe it to others too. Only time will reveal.

One step at a time.

I went on my little weekly run this morning. I usually feel slightly trepidated at this personal feat. It always feels a bit beyond my physical capacity and I carry an obscure old fear of failing in some way. This time I ran with a soft and open heart as I carried the joy and faith from the yoga class with me, flooding those ideas through my body with every breath and every step. I had a fantastic little run in the end. I came home glowing. Hubby commented: “you look different, there’s something about you”. Yep, my soft and open heart shows on the outside, clearly!

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