More Insights on Letting Go and the Practice

Yesterday, after I came back from the river, I almost added an addendum to my posting, but I decided to let it remain as it is...

I had some insights after coming back from the river at dusk and going for a walk in the early evening. I revisited these insights again with the student who faithfully comes to me for a weekly private lesson - before she showed me a beautiful warm up sequence she had devised, and which we fine-tuned by working more deeply with the breath in tandem with applying the Anusara Yoga Universal Principle of Alignment in a way that was more focused and emphasized greater awareness and mindfulness.

I shared with my student my first reaction when I realized my practice would have to change over the next two months. I was obviously not happy and wanted to feel sorry for myself. But then, as I walked in the early winter evening yesterday, I thought of Matthew Sanford - the gifted yoga teacher who began his yoga practice as a paraplegic.

At first, his practice consisted of only a couple of poses - like Upavistha Konasana. He would have to literally move his legs in position and then he would stay in the pose for a while. In time, he began to actually feel the pose energetically - even though he could not feel it physically. Over the course of several years, he progessed in his own understanding and experience of the practice under the guidance of a very compassionate Iyengar instructor, and eventually he became a yoga teacher himself.

In my heart of hearts, I knew I could work more deeply with the many poses that were accessible to me at this point. I am able to give myself the persmission and freedom to experience poses more deeply from the inside out - dancing from one universal principle of alignment to the other - drawing in - and extending out - creating more space - changing the landscape of my fascia and literally moving the bones in my body. This time that I was being given, could be an amazing opportunity to journey more deeply inward and make discoveries that might have eluded me otherwise.

I also remembered a story told once by John Friend, the founder of Anusara Yoga, which I filed away in my heart and soul. He spoke of being very ill once, and not being able to practice. Yet as he lay on his back during his convalescence - he visualized himself doing the practice and when it was time to actually resume it - he discovered that he had lost very little ground and was able to pretty much pick up where he had left off.

I shared these stories with my student as we worked very deeply. While her practice and ability to embody the principles and my instructions has blossomed beautifully, I have discovered my own gift for leading a willing soul to cherish and find delight in her practice. She said to me before leaving, that she loved her practice of Anusara Yoga very deeply, and had learned more in the months we had been working together -- than she had in all the previous years she had studied yoga with others. I was honored to know I had given this gift - also fully aware that I had received as much - if not more - than I have given.

As I write this, I also remember how I often dream of doing poses I cannot do - flawlessly and effortlessly - knowing exactly what to do and how to get there. Often I wake up thinking I can do them - and then reality sets in. Yet, energetically, I have experienced those poses. I have often told students who are frustrated by their inability to do a pose - to change their perceptions:

"Do not say that you can't do a pose.
Say instead - "I have not expressed that pose outwardly - yet!'"

Every pose begins with an inner manifestation - inside our hearts and souls. It must be felt there. It begins there - just as every change begins with a thought. I think of Obama mobilizing a nation through a very simple mantra:

"Yes we can!"

I look forward to the creativity these next few months will bring to explore my practice and inner landscape more fully as I let go of what I cannot do at the moment...

(For more about Matthew Sanford, read his book, Waking Life.)


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