You walk into the classroom and gently touch one of the hammocks. The room is bright and welcoming, and you're a mix of emotions - nervous, excited, curious. You choose your place and follow the teacher's instructions to make sure your hammock is the right height. Your neighbor asks if it's your first class - in response to your nod she says "ooh exciting! I was here last week, it's so fun!" and gives you a bright smile.
You learn to sit in the hammock, swinging gently a few feet off the floor. It's not unlike being on a swing and you feel a little more calm as you close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. You choose to be courageous today - to go where the practice will take you and hope you don't fall on your head.
I wasn't sure what to expect when I started practicing yoga. A friend of mine was enrolled in a teacher training program in New York and offered to teach me as she worked on her certification. We practiced together in her apartment and I found it to be a nice way to move and stretch my body.
Later that fall, I accompanied her to a Jivamukti "open level" class in the city. I spent at least half of the class trying to catch my breath in child's pose while those around me jumped back through vinyasas, breathed gracefully as they balanced on their hands, and stood on their heads with ease. Even though I was sore for about 4 days after the class, my mind was more relaxed - I had found a bit of calm amidst the chaos (of the city AND my brain). I realized there was more to this practice than I had originally thought.
After years of being a student, I took the leap to become a yoga teacher. We delved into studying the sutras, yogic philosophy, and the science that supported the extensive health claims of the asana and pranayama practices. I knew the effect my daily practice was having on my own body, sense of being in the world, and treatment toward myself and others, but putting it into a scientific context helped me to understand more deeply exactly how transformative yoga can be.
A friend sent me this article written by a neuroscientist that reminded me of my own yoga journey - re-training my body and my brain to find calm amidst the chaos. I'll be focusing on this theme in my class from 6:00-7:20pm this evening at The Yoga Fusion Studio - I hope you'll join me!
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to
choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
~ Viktor E. Frankl
Today, explore that space.
So many of our responses have turned into reactions and these immediate replies to difficulty often leave us feeling out of control. Next time you receive a stimulus - an email, a comment, a difficult situation - see if you can find that space just before you react out of habit. Breathe. Hold on to that space just a little longer and make your response a choice instead of a reaction.
Explore your freedom to choose how you react and notice its effect on your day.
We'll be playing with this theme tonight at The Yoga Fusion Studio in the 6pm open flow class - hope to see you there!