Friday, November 19, 2010

Inhabit the body, Focus the Mind & Find This Moment

Within a few breaths, the room full of office workers feel their shoulders melt, let their attention rest lightly on the breath drawing into their bodies and begin to let go. We had lifted each leg and felt its weight, then released that weight into the floor, into the structure, into the earth itself. Lightness had already begun to seep into the faces in the room. I cannot imagine they had ever sat together in a room with their eyes closed, breathing gently and feeling so complete.

The purpose of my time with them, all the countable minutes of one hour, was simple: to offer a release from stress. Basically help them relax into a genuine experience beyond analysis and words, goals and priorities, to live in their bodies without criticism and learn a little more about who they really are. Just get them out of the dualities of thinking. Just offer them a view of their own personal roller coaster. Just let them be free. That's all. Oh, and do it sitting in standard issue office armchairs, under fluorescent lights, surrounded by tables and chairs.

That evening, I gently tucked a blanket under the head of a 60-something year old woman in Savasana who was experiencing her first yoga practice. She had her knees propped on blocks, and her shoulders open beneath her ribcage. Her palms were softly open, her mind focused on the glow of her energy pooling there. Her breath was so light, her body weightless. If I had the right kind of camera, I bet I could have captured an image of her energy body along with the other 15 glowing beings on the floor around her at the medical center. Practice began with them spreading mats and distributing blankets to each other, commenting and taking care of each other while waiting for everyone to arrive. Just settling on the mats took time, tending to the truth in their bodies, accepting those findings, and encouraging the breath to discover them too.

This morning, as the sun rose, I watched seven beautiful young faces, eyes closed, breathing in and breathing out, each envisioning a pool of luminous energy in their pelvis as they sat on the mat. With every breath I could feel the energy radiating from them, deeply concentrating as they lifted a blind face towards the ceiling on the inhale, then releasing the chin towards their heart with the exhale. It took a few minutes to get them here, inhabiting the body using the mechanism of the breath, cultivating a focus of attention in the mind on this inhale, this exhale. For just a few minutes, they could let go of the outside shapes of the asana and gave up on competing with themselves, not needing to be more than this, accepting right now.

It only lasts a moment. But that is all we ever have, isn't it? This is why I practice and teach yoga. So far beyond the rush of exercise, so deeply moving in the cells, so full of open space and endless possibilities, regardless of time, place, props, age, body weight or condition. I mean what I say: the only pre-requisite is if you are breathing.

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