Coming into Balance

Hundreds of Downward-Facing Dogs, five yoga classes, one home practice, and roughly an hour of meditation later, we have fully submerged ourselves into a life in yoga.  I was curious about how this day would feel.  Sometimes, at the beginning of a strong practice, I can feel my body resisting what is inevitably coming.  It is usually around the first extended hold in plank, or those extra Chaturanga pushups snuck in to build some internal fire.  The sticky film from the day doesn’t always shed easy as I feel my muscle fibers resist between Ujjayi Breaths. I thought the end of week one would feel something like this; like a glance down a long corridor, too far to turn back, yet no shortcuts in sight.  I was wrong.  On the contrary, I think I am with most of us “30-day-ers” when I say I feel pretty phenomenal. 

The theme of week one has been bringing balance to both mind and body.  With mindful Mountain Poses and extra minutes in seated silence, this week’s in-studio classes have given us the chance to stand a little taller and drop a little deeper.  For me personally, it has also brought a residual awareness to my actions off of my mat.  My “train-awaiting slouch” is slightly less prevalent and I find myself looking up and ahead more than down and in what has past.  

One of the 30-day-ers kindly shared with me her struggles and successes of the past week. Simply stated, showing up for class five times at the studio: easy. Showing up once at home: hard!  I am sure she is not alone.  A good tip I heard in Nicole’s Foundations of Vinyasa Workshop and then again in Mel’s Yin Yoga Workshop is this: variation is the norm.  This does not only pertain to the structure of our bones or how our poses are displayed to the naked eye, but also extends to what our individual practice will look like on any given day.  A personal practice will inevitably evolve depending on the mood, hour, or year. 

Regarding rolling out our mats at home: if we can remember that showing up is enough, just as we are, the rest will take care of itself.  Our poses do not need to be complicated to be effective (shown by the Foundations of Vinyasa Workshop) and our sequences do not need to be elaborate to be powerful (shown by Mel’s Yin Workshop).  Who knew four poses could take up an entire hour and prove enormous benefits for the mind and body?  Theresa even showed us that simply rolling around on a tennis ball, in an equal mix of pain and ecstasy, releases the fascia that literally binds us.  Sounds like a worthy cause to me.  Let’s throw out the rules and come back to the original idea: variation is the norm.  Find what moves you in that moment, or seek bliss through stillness. 

One thing I have really enjoyed hearing about and seeing with my own eyes is the camaraderie developing between 30-day-ers.  Word is, it is extra special in the 6:15am class.  I can only imagine it would be, in a group so committed they start the day before the sun gets her own salutations together.  Bravo early risers.  Personally, I have been enjoying witnessing everyone’s faces grace the doors, along with seeing the rosy cheeks or blissful stares as class concludes.  It is a good idea to remember the best experiences are shared ones and if you see someone continuously, introduce yourself, give them your presence, and maybe even ask their story.  Week four is about connection, but why not get a head start as we continue to share this journey?

The past week was abundant in every aspect: in asana, possibly in emotion or internal struggle (anyone with me?), and maybe even in clarity and balance.  I know this immersion has also sparked some added challenges or commitments on a personal level.  Natalie is a week into daily handstands (go Nat!), I am continuing a caffeine kick, and many of us may have given up chocolate until the anniversary party and Chef Sally’s irresistible goodies...  Regardless of the cocoa crumple, shifts are happening.  To quote Persia from her Friday lunchtime class: “If you never want to change, you should stop doing yoga immediately.”  Is anyone stopping?  I didn’t think so (wink).  Here we come, week two!