transform blog

Journey of my yoga practice

Monday, July 02, 2007

You've been walking the ocean's edge,
holding up your robes to keep them dry.
You must dive naked under,
And deeper under,
a thousand times deeper!
- Rumi

The journey of my yoga practice began in a typical way - awakening to the body. There is the thrill of feeling the body work as the mind tries to keep up and the inevitable struggle of control between the mind and the body. But, eventually, the mind surrenders and the breath emerges. For a long time, the part of me that loved classical ballet was driven by mastery of the poses and understanding of the smallest details of alignment. I can remember the first time I was exposed to the form of Ashtanga yoga taught by Pattabhi Jois. How long must it take to master such a practice? I felt at once overwhelmed and almost drowning in this ancient practice. Luckily, I was safely wrapped in a year-long teacher training. Looking back, I had no idea where this river would lead and I dare say that I am only beginning to see glimpses of where it continues to lead. As my teacher training was coming to an end, I can remember distinctly the day that I stared out over the edge and tried to see what was next. I found my next teacher. With very little effort on my part - only the need to surrender to the flow - I came to the edge quite literally with Shiva Rea. The focus of the workshop was working at your edge. I can remember standing in tadasana with my hands in hasta mudra, eyes closed, envisioning standing on the edge. Suddenly, my heart was completely full and I was overwhelmed with the sense that I had found both my work and my teacher. For nearly ten years, I had been feeling that I wanted to work as a personal trainer or some variation. It never felt fully defined and I know now that I could only see it in its seed form. During all of those years, I moved back and forth between control and surrender. But not until I came to yoga did I begin to understand that. What has naturally flowed is a gradual opening to the grace of the practice. The beauty of the breath as it sustains and nurtures me is a something that I have found to be essential to my practice. And that is what I share with students. What I feel in my own body is now the sweetness of the practice. The Rumi poem at the beginning is a very potent reminder for me. How often do we walk just along the edge being ever so careful not to get wet, holding our robes so close? For me, it wasn't until I dove under did I see a completely different landscape. It is also a reminder that I must continue to dive deeper and surrender. What is waiting is intended for us all.

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