Friday, March 15, 2013

Changing Space

So, the season is changing.  I saw crocuses blooming on my way home from yoga class today!  Change is all around us: taxes get higher, the milk on my counter curdles and separates so I can pour it into a cloth get cultured whey and cream cheese, my little kitten who could once curl up in the corner of the window sill can now reach her front paws up to the edge of the dining table, and backbends, once painful, scary journeys into the unknown, now feel so natural I'm having to retrain myself to pull ribs in and tuck my tail all over again.
As evidenced above, some changes are good, and some are bad.  If you aren't using raw milk and don't want to make your own cream cheese, soured milk is just spoiled milk.  If the money's being used to fund another questionable conflict, higher taxes are pretty crummy, too.

And of course, your body is changing and shifting every day, sometimes for the better, e.i. complete strangers exclaiming over my bendy back, and for the worse, e.i. after stretching my straddle super deeply in class last night, I had to modify all lunging shapes today to give my cranky hips a break.

One of the fun things about yoga is that you learn, slowly but surely, to stop saying things like, "Oh, my body's just super-tight." or, "I can never do straight-leg inverts!" or, "Understand trigonometry?  Ha!" Or whatever it may be that you or your body doesn't seem able to do.

Sammi, one of the teachers at Jaya was talking to a new teacher trainee the other day, and she shared this great piece of dialogue with her: "Is there anyone in this room who can't do this pose?  NO!  You just haven't done it yet!"

The thing is, if you keep telling yourself you can't do something, you'll never give yourself the space necessary to grow enough to be able to do it: it's a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Yoga offers the beautiful lesson that you don't know: You don't know what tomorrow will bring, good or bad.  You don't know how a yoga pose will feel, or if you'll be able to stand on one leg, or if your hands will go all the way to the ground when you do one side versus the other, let alone when you try again the next day or week!  You work at being constantly open to possibilities, and accepting whatever the status of your Tree Pose, your back bend, your job application, or your relationship.
Since our brains are used to telling us stories on repeat about what will happen in five minutes, tomorrow, next week, next year...this can be a scary state of mind at first, and hence a challenging one to cultivate, but when you manage it, it doesn't feel scary, unsure, unprepared, or any of thing things you would think that it might.  It feels like beautiful freedom, and on the day that you surprise yourself by feeling your toes tickling the top of your head, or just managing to stay standing on one foot for three breaths, you'll feel amazing.

Spring is a time we all feel a bit more at home, a bit more naturally open and joyful, so it's the perfect time to try to cultivate this mindset.  The next time you approach a task that has given you lots of trouble in the past, instead of anticipating, and getting all angsty, about how tough it's going to be again, remind yourself that you don't actually know how it will go this time.  Maybe this time it will be extra tough, and maybe this time it will be really easy.  Give your mind and body space to surprise you...then accept whatever happens with love and grace.

Live Omily,

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