Uncategorized, Yoga

Being Present

To be present. What does it actually mean? I am trying to figure my way through it at the moment. Should I have to try to be more ‘present’? I think so, sometimes. When I arrive on my mat I sit still and breathe, I am present. When I start to move the mind often wanders into a narrative of “oh that’s tight still” or “will I balance this time”. Often I am making judgments on myself or layering on a few expectations.

What I love about this practice is how much it teaches me. I learn humility, patience (sometimes), aprigraha (non grasping) and that I need to just sit in my stuff. I don’t actually have to run away from it, rather accept it and lessen the grip of judgments on myself. In class this morning Calli said ‘just feel’ and I felt something let go inside. I moved away from the judgments to just being there, feeling my way into whatever I was doing.

I notice the lack of being in the moment off the mat even more so. Walking out of class earlier I’m straight away on my phone checking Instagram, the sun shines down on me, I hear my boyfriend’s voice “be more present Alice” and put the phone away. I need to remind myself regularly to stop multi-tasking. To commit my attention to the task in hand. That’s one of the things I love about teaching. I am fully absorbed in the moment, nothing else enters my consciousness apart from what is happening in front of me, the students moving & breathing together.

So I’m making a commitment to myself to ‘just be’ a little more. Starting with bringing more meditation into my practice. The physical asanas are one small part of the wonder that is yoga. I feel the time is right more than ever for me to explore the others limbs of this amazing path. The time is now.

Eka Pada Galavasana

Appreciating The Small Things

This image to me represents small changes.   A seemingly impossible pose four months ago in Spain suddenly feels a little closer to finding my way into (it’s working some way to Eka Pada Galavasana-Flying Pigeon).  On the surface I don’t look like I’m anywhere near the full expression of the pose, and that’s fine.  Because underneath the layers small and subtle changes having been taking place.  My mind, along with the physical body is starting to ease into the process.  In the physical sense the tensile resistance in my legs has loosened a little with regular practice (at the moment 4-5 times per week).  In the mental sense I feel more open to try new things, after all yoga should be fun.

Whilst attempting this posture there is a sense of ‘f**k I might fall straight on my face’ especially if I try to straighten out my left leg.  There is a fleeting feeling of fear, my legs feel tight, and my hands are tingling so I ease back.  Overall the main feeling is that I am satisfied that I have given it a go but not pushed beyond what feels comfortable.  Here comes another metaphor……To move on we have to evolve, to change and to put some faith behind what we are doing.  If I constantly told myself I wouldn’t improve then what kind of message does that send to myself?  Mind over matter can be very powerful alongside visualisation and a bit of good old-fashioned self-belief.  But also I am learning to just be satisfied with having a go and not doing something that could injure myself.   This body has been built over 28 years, 18 months of yoga isn’t going to suddenly break down the years of life patterns.  My hamstrings still feel tight in Uttanasana (standing forward fold), I have to bend my knees to get my hands on the ground, and that is fine.  If I just focused on how I can’t get my legs straight I would constantly feel like I’m not getting anywhere with this posture.  Instead I just enjoy the opportunity to practice with my able body that has it’s strengths and weaknesses.

When I went off to Spain to begin YTT my biggest fear was ‘I’m not good enough for this’.  I thought that the sum of my teaching would be held in my ability to be ‘good’ at yoga, to impress or to balance upside down.  At that point what I hadn’t realised is that being a yoga teacher reaches so far beyond the physical.  I am at the beginnings of my teaching, another thing I have to remind myself of daily.  There doesn’t need to be some huge rush to get there, I can’t expect to be like my contemporaries who have been teaching for years and built their foundations on time, learnings and practice.  But I know that I have to keep going, to keep practicing, to keep learning.  The most important thing is that my classes are safe, fun and enjoyable for practitioners.