The word yoga means “union” or “to come together”. In last week’s teacher training class, Kathryn talked about yoga as a practice of cooperating with, rather than controlling, the body.
Think about this for a moment. So much of the Western world focuses on achievement. Our everyday life is controlled by family, jobs, time, traffic … It’s a long list!
Yoga asks us to accept and cooperate with our bodies as they exist. Our bodies change daily. When I’m practicing, I feel the difference between my right and left sides. For example, in triangle pose, how far I can open my chest to the ceiling on the right, is often different from my left. And the difference varies during the week. I find it challenging to cooperate with, and accept, my body.
How do we cooperate with our body?
First, we listen. Shavasana, which starts each practice, is an excellent way to scan our body. How do the shoulders feel? What’s happening in the lower back? Do hips or knees feel tight? How is breath moving? Can you feel it moving smoothly throughout the body or is it uneven? Notice what feels good and what doesn’t.
Next, we need to be present. I remember the first time Jessica, my yoga teacher, opened the practice by saying, “The next 90 minutes are all about you. Be with your breath. Just be.” These words thrilled me. Here was permission to listen and be with my body and breath on the mat. Listening to your body and being present are gifts you give yourself.
For anyone just starting yoga, it takes a while to feel these. Be patient. The gifts are worth waiting for. Listen to, and love, your body. Its wisdom will tell you what you need in each practice.