Saturday, January 30, 2010

Feeling the Connection

Many a day my practice is a solitary behavior in a specific place where I can find the physical space to lay myself out. Those whose idea of me is "the official yoga teacher" would laugh out loud to see me wedged between two beds in a handstand, or propped up against the cellar door exploring scorpion. My family might find me zoned out at the end of practice in a supine twist in the middle of the living room floor. There is no reason to resist warrior in the kitchen, where the floor is clear; where the view of my own heart is as good as it is anywhere. I lost my attachment to the mat early in my exploration of yoga, finding that waiting for the mat and the private quiet space would just leave me waiting rather than practicing.

Classes bring the body into a space with other bodies. There is a wonderful confluence of influence in this. Following the intention to do yoga brings you to the class, and the class structure provides you with the breath of others around you, as well as the guidance, encouragement and support of the teacher. There is a commitment to be present. Watching over all the varieties of student I see one yearning among them all, to be and to be fully. Even without knowing what that is, or how that might feel, there is this possibility palpable in the room. By the time we find savasana, the sense of being fills the space, however large, however small.

By myself, on a mat between this and that furniture with barely enough clearance to extend one leg fully sideways, I have this same connection to the breath of all living beings, to the open space of the moment. Making the connection is all it takes.

The first stage is exactly the same no matter where I am: allow myself to be present. I seek my foundation. Just noticing where my body touches the earth helps draw my attention inward and releases me -- surrenders my will -- to that which sustains me. (Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya) Perhaps it is my sitting bones below me and the gentle pressure I feel on my ankle bones that enables me to let go of my earthly weight into the earthly support in Sukhasana (Easy Pose - crossed legs on the floor). My tailbone melts a bit, muladhara (root chakra) drawing energy like roots from the earth itself. This loosens the lower back and my spine rises in a natural curve that has evolved over thousands of years to find full expression right here in my own body. (Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya)

This inhale draws the ocean up through me in a wave of oxygen and as I exhale my shoulders rest more lightly atop my ribcage, the weight of my arms gently moving out and away towards my hands resting on thighs (or perhaps fingers gently on either side of me on the floor -- or cupped in my lap), just as my knees gently drift away from my hips. By now I am in the room, I am on the mat, I am in the breath, I am in this moment fully. If the cat rubs against my knee, I smile or perhaps stroke the last inches of tail as it passes, and feel the lightness of being right here, right now. This is not a closed posture, one where the gates are all shut tight to protect the experience. This is a wide open space where everything can exist at the same moment. It has taken me years and barely a few moments to be here, now. (Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya)

I find this is the same if I am flat on the floor, or with elevated knees, or in Tadasana (standing mountain pose) waiting for a light to turn green on the street. This connection to the present, this awakening of awareness, this being present with the breath itself is not bound up in yoga mats and classes, nor even in "yoga practice" per se. You can find this connection in a crowded subway, feeling the essential quality of presence among others there, (Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya) or alone waiting for the bus by the side of the road. The breath and the being will connect you to all living beings, once you are here, there is no other moment, no other place. Just this. (Surrender to that which sustains me = Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya.)

When you feel you are lost or when you feel full of being, try inhaling "just" and exhaling "this." No pre-existing conditions are required to be present, just this - setting aside attachments and judgments, allowing yourself freedom. Oh sure, the yoga asanas make this easier in that they open awareness and energy channels, take the body into healthier and more supported ways of being, draw awareness to patterns that can then be more easily released... all good! Yet that connection to being is always there in this inhale, and this exhale. Just this.

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