Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Many years ago I fell in love with the practice of yoga when I went to take a month long course in giving relaxation massages and we did 4.5 hours a day of yoga as part of the course. I was in week 3 of the course when I realized that my sciatic nerve, that that had been damaged and sore for years, was no longer sore. The daily pain I had been experiencing was gone. At that moment I was hooked and wanted to learn more about this practice so that I could share it with others. Over the years I have used my yoga practice to help me recover from many injuries/ tight areas in my hips, hamstrings, low back and shoulders. All these years later what keeps me dedicated to the practice is how I have learned to experience and cultivate the feeling of being perfectly effortless. The final pose in a yoga class, called svasna (or some times we do a long relaxation called yoga nidra) is about the yogi’s intention around and ability to cultivate perfect effortlessness. The idea is that we can each experience unsurpassed tranquility in our bodies. This fall I am dedicated to cultivating more strength in my core and navel area of my body. Not only does this physically strengthen me, but work on the navel/ core can also bring forth some great attributes like self confidence, energy and vitality. Working on the core is challenging because it requires that I do the yoga poses I usually like to avoid (planks, standing balances, belly down backbends) in combination with deep abdominal breathing. It is a challenging practice and I often want to give up. The beauty of doing something with friends or in a group is that the energy of the group can keep everyone motivated. I keep staying dedicated to the focus of a strong navel area and so far am using accessible and simple core strengthening poses that are effective and good for beginners. It still takes a lot effort and commitment to do the practice. But when I come to that final pose in the practice, the relaxation is wonderful. If I have perfected 1 pose in yoga over the years, it is this one. The ability to completely let go and experience the gifts of being totally effortless. Perfect effortlessness. There is nothing more delicious that setting myself up in my little yoga nest, covering myself with a blanket, closing my eyes and allowing gravity to claim my body and facilitate deep rest and relaxation. After all that focused and sometimes challenging work and dedication I get to reap the true benefits and aim of the yoga experience which is total effortlessness. It is in this final pose of being effortless that my body truly relaxes and is deeply rejuvenated and healed. It is such a gift to my mind, my body and my spirit. As much as we each need to be strong and dedicated and passionate and out in the world giving in the way we want to, we equally need to be know how to be effortless. How to soften, receive, be and let go. So now my yoga “off the mat” is about playing with the idea of building self confidence and energy in my yoga practice so that I can express my goodness, my gifts into the world in a way that is effortless. Effortless giving. I wonder how the world would look if we all contributed what we think is important and valuable to the world in a way that doesn’t drain of us our own energy and vitality. We would all be healthier and happier I think.