I ventured out one day this week, walking right across town, west to east. All of three miles! It was the deepest into urban space that I have been in the past six months or so of lockdown. I have avoided concentrations of people and enclosed spaces; I simply had no need of them.
I was tempted out on this day to meet with my teacher. What else?! This was wonderful. And it was weird. But not nearly as weird as I expected. I guess that’s the how it is with yoga teachers — that whole quiet non-judgmental thing they do… it has a certain timeless quality. Or is that the practice of yoga itself is timeless? It was like we’d just picked up after a pause, after an emptying exhale to reset the rhythm.
Arriving at the studio was a bit odd, a temperature check and each of us keeping a good distance as we manoeuvred in space. We sat together (apart) in the expanse of the studio and checked in with one another: health — mental and physical, self and family — experiences of lockdown, how practice is, current teaching challenges…
The physical work we did was wonderful — clarifying and inspiring. I keep telling myself that zoom classes are really fantastic. And indeed they are. But in person is of course incomparable, a richer experience by far. To be seen in real time and space is priceless for heightening my awareness and developing clearer focus, the nuances and subtleties of my movement under gentle scrutiny. My teacher offered a commentary of what he saw: pointing out some areas of imbalance that I will try to attend to better, as well as observing greater flexibility in some muscles that are testament to my hours of practice at home without the constraints of a studio class schedule or travel time. Despite a more sedentary time in lockdown, there are areas of my body that are clearly benefitting.
I left the studio with a host of ideas for my practice on so many levels (being at one point exhorted to “let go of the gross and move into the subtle!”), an increased appetite to embrace the obstacles that I endlessly create for myself, as well as a reminder to balance effort with patience.
I also left carrying a bit of shoulder injury which happened when I slipped into my old habit of trying to ‘teacher please’ rather than listening first to what I know my body can/can’t do. I live and learn. I have some ongoing work in balancing out trust in myself and trust in someone else. I see-saw between faith and fear, surrender and stubbornness, reticence and impulse.
Gosh, I must be hard to teach! I take care not to dwell on the unpleasant thought that I must be the most troublesome student ever. Because I guess we are all living paradoxes. The magic of yoga is in creating evenness from our opposites, clarity from confusion. My teacher has doubtless seen all this before. My ingredients are the same as anyone else’s, it’s just the recipe that’s peculiarly my own. It’ll sweeten over time I hope. More practice needed, as always…