Yogic Musings on the River

After teaching this morning, I made my way down to the offices at Algonkian Park, and bought my 2010 boat launch pass for Grace, my kayak. I spontaneously decided it was time to make it into the Potomac River after a long winter hiatus.

At exactly 2:00 PM, I pushed away from the boat launch and paddled out into the waters, breathing in the fresh, crisp air, and delighting in this unexpected opportunity to commune with the river once again. I could see a couple of blue herons off in the distance. I cannot remember when I last went kayaking, but I suspect it was some time in October. This, was the first opportunity I have had this year to go paddling, even if it was only going to be for a brief period...

It is hard to describe how vibrantly alive one feels in the river. I enjoyed my moments there as I relished the memories of teaching my yoga class this morning. I worked with the theme of holding the mirror up to where we need to do our work, inspired from an blog entry I made last week.

We worked through increasingly challenging twists - which are always good to do in between seasons to detox and cleanse the body - and I noted how every day we experience so many opportunities that invite us to reflect on what it is that we need to work on. Sometimes friends hold up the necessary mirrors for us to see these reflections - or family members do this, but most often it is those we are in conflict with that become the needed messengers in our lives.

Yet, the mat also offers us that opportunity to see what it is we need to see. The mat reflects back to us what our issues are. Some poses push our buttons and we avoid them, only doing them when our teacher instructs us to do them. Last week I discussed how certain poses push our buttons with a couple of other teachers at Willow Street Yoga, and it was fascinating to hear what poses elicited what for different people.

During the early years of my doing yoga, handstand was a pose I was actually very much afraid of. Then, over the course of time and lots of work, it became my favorite inversion - but it was not an easy transition to that point. That is why I am very compassionate towards those who also harbor that fear.

After that, it was hand balancings, or arm balances. I had many gut wrenching experiences attempting them that conjured up all sorts of insecurities. Being led to the right teachers I needed at different junctures helped me to address the underlying issues those poses elicited.

Practitioners of yoga also come together in a community where we work on poses that are challenging and hold up the mirror to where we need to do our work. Together, we can offer each other the support that is needed to make a needed breakthrough.

As we worked this morning, one student shared how the theme was precisely what she needed to hear. Recently she had gotten a new boss that pushed all her buttons and she was seeing it as an invitation to grow and move on to a different job - a move she had actually been avoiding...

When Grace and I first launched into the river, I could not have anticipated how this river would hold up a mirror to so many places inside me that I needed to work on. And so, for nearly two years, I received many needed insights until all the major broad strokes had been addressed.

Today, and this week, slow down and take a moment to listen to whomever or whatever is holding a mirror up to the work you need to do. And then, take the time express your gratitude for the opportunities received, for they are blessings in disguise.

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