Day 9 was an evening session at the studio.
I didn’t practice on Day 10. I (we, my partner in this Challenge) had every intention to attend a late afternoon class but plans changed. Afterwards, I/we both wished we had gone regardless of what had come up, but it was too late. We missed a day.
Day 11. Started the day teaching my usual Friday morning Intro class. I began,
Often, teachers will suggest setting an intention for your practice. It can be something like finding strength, relaxing, showing kindness to yourself, dedicating your practice to another….that kind of thing.
I wanted them to dig deeper.
What is your intention for being here today? There are many other places you could be this morning so what brings you to this studio, this session, this time on your mat? People come to yoga with all kinds of different reasons or intentions. What is yours?
That was the question I posed this morning as we settled in.
Reasons or intentions might be to lose weight, work on stretching hamstrings if they’re a runner, time out of the house and away from kids and responsibilities, looking for stress relief. Or, they might just love the physical practice or the philosophy of yoga. It could be a multitude of things.
I was hoping each would take a moment and consider the question. For a person to get up early on the first day of the weekend, roll out their mat and begin practice at 8:30am takes effort and shows some level of commitment. But I wanted to lead them to the why of their practice, if they didn’t already know. Or at least to think about it a little.
Very quickly the hour passed, class was over and it was my turn to practice. I went in to join a led Astanga Primary Series class.
Below is one of my favorite passages from Donna Farhi’s book “Bringing Yoga to Life”
We begin by putting aside a little time each day so that we can deliberately slow down and in doing so find a more natural rhythm that supports our well-being. This more relaxed rhythm allows us to reflect rather than react, to soften rather than harden, and to see clearly how things are now rather than dwell on the past or worry about the future. We achieve this in Yoga practice by simple means. Through the practice of postures we release pent-up tensions that have accumulated in our body, and we further refine our physical senses so that we become sensitive, adaptive, and resilient. Simultaneously, we reacquaint ourselves with the cyclic nature of our breath and its relationship to the sensate wisdom of our body. We learn to inhale completely and open to new experience. We learn to exhale completely and let go of unnecessary tension and the past. And we learn to rest in the pauses in between this arising and dissolving cycle. Like a surfer out on the ocean swell, we start to align ourselves with the ebb and flow of life rather than fight with it. Gradually we begin to recognize that in between the ups and downs and the coming and going, there is a matrix of stillness that is the backdrop of all phenomena.
I’ve only been taking in this particular Astanga class again for the past few weekends. I struggle with it at times. It is a challenge for me. Sometimes I think it may not be the best style of practice for me, my body, my age. But there are other ways in which it is just right, just what I’m looking for. It fits with my reasons to practice. On some days.
Through practice I’ve learned and gained some of what Donna writes of. More than anything though, my well being is supported by my practice.
So tomorrow, very simply, I will practice again.
What is your intention? Your reason to practice?