Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Boiling the Water

Sometimes in yoga a teacher will speak about finding your edge, or pushing to your edge. This has, at times, raised my hackles, since I do not think of a yoga practice like a competitive sport where one has to continuously try to get beyond where one has been before. But then, as I think (say or write) this, I realize that it happens all the time in yoga! What keeps us up in headstand?

The big difference is that in yoga finding our edge is a process of discovering that which is sustaining the effort and releasing into that support rather than pushing past something. Sometimes, as with headstand, there can be fear that might be "pushed past" yet the joy of yoga is finding the core strength that makes the inverted lift feel light and allows the breath to continue to flow comfortably. This is not the result of pushing past the fear, but rather of seeing it and letting it go. What's the worst that can happen? One attempt, two attempts, many many attempts only lead to that frantic quality of reaching for a goal. Preparing for strength, for balance, focusing on the breath and alignment, the inversion begins to rise on its own.

I was boiling water for tea and realized that there is something to this idea of an edge in practice. Like reaching the exact temperature at which water boils, each of us in any given moment has that specific temperature at which the impurities or impediments can be released and the kettle of the self begins to sing. Avoidance and resistance are part of our human nature, and so in any practice there will be moments when you will need to find a little encouragement in order to stick with it, to breathe more consciously using Ujjayi pranayama (ocean sounding breath) or even Kapalabhati to maintain your focus while your legs shake, or your heart wavers. We know it takes a consistent application of continuous heat to get that water to boil. It can be the same in our yoga practice, then let your kettle sing!

1 comment:

  1. I remember very well the times in class when you have said, "What's the worst that could happen?" and it seems a good way to lighten the fear. Thank you!