A Basket of Beautiful Offerings

Once in a while, you attend a workshop or seminar that changes the way you look at something - enabling you to see things with fresh eyes. I had that experience this weekend, attending an anatomy and yoga workshop by Maria Cristina Jimenez, a very gifted young teacher, at Willow Street Yoga Center, in Maryland.

Her extensive background in anatomy, yoga, Rolfing, and bodywork, punctuated by several dissections - and her clarity and the compassion she embodies for both her subject and her students - touched me profoundly, and enabled me to "re-imagine" the body and its amazing capabilities in a totally new way.

Maria Cristina spoke of the importance of the language we use in our teaching and the effect it has on our understanding and impressions of the body. For example, instead of referring to the "rib cage" in this manner, she introduced the image of a "rib basket" instead, which contains our vital organs. When I shared this notion in my own yoga class yesterday, a friend later described the images it conjured up for her. A basket is an instrument used for gathering, and because a rib basket contains our hearts, it becomes a place from where we both gather and share - and how much more inviting this notion is!

Maria Cristina also shared an experience of touching a heart in just a certain way during a dissection, having it open and unfold, in a very "receiving" and yielding manner. In my own heart and mind, I was already making profound connections!

She also spoke of holding a scapula - part of the shoulder - up to the light and realizing it is translucent, and how this changed her understanding of the body. Now, when on a walk on a sunny day, she can literally "feel" the sunlight coursing through her body.

We were also reminded that we are mostly comprised of water, which is in constant motion. We have more in common with the ocean than not, and yet we constantly try to still and quiet our bodies.

We go through a lifetime of not knowing or accepting - or liking our bodies - trying to make it fit into a particular template - rather than accepting it for the unique and sacred vessel that it is. There is no symmetry we learned, yet we spend a lifetime castigating ourselves and forcing our bodies into molds it was never meant to inhabit. Instead, each one of us is unique in a most unrepeatable way!

As a teacher and practitioner of yoga and other modalities, I was reminded that I am not a healer and that it is not my job to fix people - but instead - to enter into conversations with their bodies - and their very souls - and thus explore together a more comfortable and fulfilling way of inhabiting that existence - always from a place of deep respect and compassion.

So much of what Maria Cristina shared from her diverse studies, both resonated and affirmed my own intuitions about yoga and its practice. For example, in many classes we tend to move fast or quickly through poses, which only reinforces and elicits patterns of movement that are already established. To transcend these, we must move more slowly, letting the deeper and more intrinsic muscles begin to awaken. Listening and waiting in this way, can not only take us to new patterns of movement, but we may also find ourselves profoundly awed by the body's own intuition and innate intelligence.

We engaged in a number of practices that were illuminating and that I now know will profoundly alter my own understanding of the body and physical practice. We explored moving in yoga from different parts of the body, and even from different organs. I know I will be pondering many of the insights gained for a long time to come!

Take a moment today to thank your body. To listen to it. To ask for what you need. Notice how you stand. And how you sit. Notice what is unique about yourself. And then celebrate who you are!

I thank Maria Cristina for the basket of beautiful offerings and teachings she brought and shared. I tasted its fruits, and am deeply nourished and grateful. And it has left me wanting more!

For more on Maria Cristina and her work, visit:

http://www.mariacristinajimenez.com

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