I told my teacher recently about a photo I saw of a girl in urdhva hastasana. Not a pose I’ve really thought about much, until recently. Now it’s come up as part of a self-project of settling more deeply into my surya namaskar. I have the idea of elevating it beyond the physical exertion of the sequence into something more… I don’t know, more meta-physical perhaps? Something with more of me in it. Less worry about technique, more emphasis on presence. Some small, achievable aim like that 🙂
I described the photo, what I saw and how it made me feel. The groundedness and stability this girl had, perfectly balanced with a beautiful rising upwards of the chest, face and hands; an expensive openness that looked the very embodiment of joy and trust; hair hanging free and natural, caught slightly by the wind, and the sunlight illuminating the whole scene. She looked how I wanted every pose to feel for me, a timelessness, a feeling of being held between moments, when everything ceases and yet everything flows simultaneously. Being in the moment….
Oh, I can feel all this again as I picture her.
My teacher listened benignly and patiently — as always.
And — as always– asked the killer question: why do you need a photo of someone else to feel that? Why don’t you feel that in your own pose, in your own body?
Um, well, how long have you got…? I don’t know what my reply actually was. Probably some incoherent mumbling about unworthy I was, how lacking in proficiency my practice was in comparison to hers, how maybe one day in the future, a day that might never allow to come…
And as always his question stayed with me and I’ve been experimenting with how to embrace my own sense of timelessness and presence. Turns out it’s much more about what’s going on in my head (I think Patanjali might have said something about this 🙂 )than it is about opening my shoulders, strengthening my back, or any alignment detail I’d been fretting about. Could I just let go of all that and simply choose to feel epic in my practice?
And last night over dinner I was relaying to my husband a chat I’d had with a fellow student before class. She was curious. We’ve overlapped in class for a few years and now she wanted to know what I did when I wasn’t at the studio. She asked about my job. She assumed I also taught yoga. She shyly said she’d been watching me practising during class and commented on my ability to ‘hold space’. Strange expression. To a teacher this has a particular (if not easy to define!) meaning about one’s capacity to provide a container for everything that comes up for students in the course of their practice. Eek, had I stepped on my teacher’s toes in some way? I do find it hard sometimes not to address the students’ questions when we have discussion time at the start of class 😉 My husband pointed out the expression could mean something different to her, and might relate just to my physical practice. Perhaps, he suggested, she was trying to describe the quality it conveyed to her and the level of concentration I evidently had. He told me my practice looks… wait for it… yes, of course — ‘timeless’ was the word he chose!