Namaste…the Truth Behind the Practice of Yoga

With the sunrise brought focused intentions to commence the weekend with love and gratitude to my body. My physical being had taken a battering through the week. The joints were stiff and craving gentle yet purposeful movement. My mind equally required the indulgence of space and silence.

Mother Earth had fully embraced the elements that constituted summer and appeared to be answering the people’s cries for the heat in an abundance. The morning sun was already unbearable and suffocating. Stepping out of the summer elements, I enter the beautiful space where I practice yoga and able to breathe a sigh of relief at the cool air circulating. The yoga studio is a nice balance of colour and energy. I am greeted with a welcoming and warm embrace by Anne, my yoga teacher whose passion is inspiring and infectious.

As the class is preparing to commence, I take position in the middle of the other students and nervously unrolled my most essential asset required in my practice ~ my sky blue yoga mat, decorated with odd leaf like swirls. The mat is just like a childs security blanket – if I focused all of my attention to the mat I may save myself from face planting, stumbling sideways or potentially pass wind as I have witnessed others do.

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Flat on my back…
Palms of the feet touching one another…
Knees fall out to the sides;
Arms stretch overhead…
I let out a huge sigh.

Exhale.
Inhale.
Exhale.
Inhale.
Breathe…

My mind welcomes the gentle sounds of nature facilitated through the music that fills the room with light, energy and serenity. My body embraces the rhythm, allowing a subtle bounce in my movements and a flow through my muscles.  Woven into the sounds is the gentle and mindful voice of Anne. She guides the class through the postures, accompanied by comments that connect the mind and the body to one another meaningfully and purposefully.

As we move through emotionally challenging Matsyasana (fish pose), to physically challenging Paripurna Navasana (full boat pose) and challenges of balance Vrksasana (tree pose), in and amongst the restful postures of Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward facing dog) and Balasana (childs pose), I periodically forget to breathe.

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My level of concentration is at a minimal as I am distracted by the obvious tightness throughout my body. My exhaling breath used as a quiet cry of agony. I thrive on the time in yoga as a focus on me and exclusion of the external distractions, however this is not always the practical reality.  Today my mind is distracted by the need to repaint my toe nails, wondering if the cool change will present earlier to provide relief and 88 other unimportant matters to decide at that point.

Closing my eyes and refocusing my breath as I settle into a warrior position, my knees bend deeply into the forward bend, yet realigning my body as I mindfully check through where my hips are facing and where my weight is shifting between. There is a gentleness about this pose that gives my mind strength, yet my arms are attempting to defy gravity. The weight of the world weighs against them as I try to focus attention into the strength in my legs.

As the class draws to an end, we settle into Savasana (corpse pose). I lie on my mat. The music has now changed to the sounds of the ocean. I close my eyes and breathe into my rested position, allowing my body to fall into the floor. Time stands still. I consciously try to focus on the guided meditation of Anne’s voice. I fall in and out of restful sleep, occasionally hearing my breath deepen and wake myself before I snore.

The meditation is interrupted with the gentle sounds of Anne. Complying with instructions:

I wriggle my toes;
The movement travels up my legs, through my torso;
I start wriggling my fingertips…then into my arms;
I move my head side to side.

I hesitantly commence opening my eyes.  The sunshine is streaming through the window and across the floorboards. Bringing myself into a standing position, we face one another. Bringing my hands to prayer position, we bow to one another.  We do so in respect for one another, the time spent and the energy shared… 

Namaste

We echo around the room.  My soul smiles in gratitude…

~F.P

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