I don’t remember exactly what year I started to practice Yoga. I think it might have been 1997. Although my dad will happily point out I used to do Yoga with Lilias when she was on Sesame Street when I was a little kid. He will also gladly point out that I preferred to eat my ice cream to doing Yoga and was always quite willing to inform Lilias that I would do the pose after I was done with my ice cream.
I do remember after I started getting into a daily Yoga practice and I really began to work at it that I was up to three to five hours a day of power yoga. It wasn’t a hard thing to do at that time with my schedule. I won’t go into the details of the schedule or the marriage which forced my hand at having to find a way to survive. I won’t go into the story again of how Yoga saved my life. Although it did. Although it continues to do so.
I am always surprised when I return to my Yoga practice. This time it is something entirely different. I have not genuinely had a regular Yoga practice since I left Arkansas for Missouri, in 1999. I have had random spurts where I pick it up for a time, then walk away from it. I have literally been living off the reserve I built up in those three to five hour a day sessions for the past, what, nearly ten years. That foundation I have from that time period is what got me through my divorce, both pregnancies, and the break-up with my son’s dad. It is also what helped to keep me more focused during the past two years while I found my own footing and began to move ahead on my own.
Now, I am shifting my priorities. I am giving my writing a larger space in my life. I am giving Yoga a larger space in my life. I am also returning to what I know and love in other arenas. I have so many other things that I give space to during my day. The writing and the Yoga, other than my family, are the only things I schedule time for, make space for and stick to in some form or fashion, every single day. Some days I may reach my allotted word count by IMing the love of my life all day or by emailing any and everyone I know, but I always more than reach my writing goal. For Yoga, some days there is enough clarity in my mind and body to do five minutes of Yoga. Other days it’s an hour. Most days I strive for at least twenty minutes minimum.
At this point, it has only been a couple weeks since I re-commenced my daily Yoga practise. Yesterday, I noticed a very large shift during my practice. The shift remained with me even after the session. I always come out of my Yoga practice, even the five minute sessions, with a change in my mind and heart. This is something else. There are a number of changes that I have undergone in the past few days that have had some major impact on me and on my life.
First, Wishcasting Wednesdays, brought to us with love by Jamie Ridler of Starshyne Productions (http://starshyneproductions.blogspot.com) every Wednesday, this week completely kicked my butt. I swear to you, Jamie had to have been listening to my brain that morning before she posted her question, because that was exactly what I had been pondering in my brain before I went to her blog to see what she was asking that day. I am so very grateful to those women, the ones who love and support and wish with me every Wednesday. Whether you want to say it was the physical act of actually getting what I got out in a public forum, or if you want to say it was all the loving support I got from others wishing alongside me, posting what I posted caused a shift in me, a profound shift that was very visible to me very quickly. Not to mention, Wednesday was a very busy day on other fronts and many other things were in operation that day. Let me tell you, I might have had a huge shift, but the people I was discussing in my post had some pretty major things going on themselves. The wishing works. Hands down. I am not the only one that shifted. Although it did help me shift even more when the other parties shifted as well. It allowed me to hope even more, which opened my heart to more, which … well, you get the idea.
I had started something last week. I tend to catch glimpses of the future on a regular basis, and in so doing I often get twinges and content from the present. It is difficult seeing someone you will know and love in the future and then getting a burst of them in their current space where they don’t know you and have no clue what is coming. I did this with someone last week. I was overwhelmed by the sadness that follows him, but also heartened at the joy and happiness he is still able to take in, despite his sadness. In the future, that sadness will still be there. That will never leave him. In the future, he will be better able to deal with it. What I saw caused me to become aware of him at this present time—which made other entities sit up and take notice of me.
Metaphysically, I do not put myself out there as the ‘hey yes I see you come and talk to me’ type. I put myself out there as the gruff and grumpy old troll who lives under the bridge specifically so that I intimidate. It took his mother and her Guide a couple days to actually try to approach me. Approach me they did, however, and after a few minutes of making sure I really wasn’t that troll-like and that I really do have her son’s best interests at heart, my boyfriend’s mother and I had some really interesting chats. She gave her blessing. That is a major thing for me, another major shift. There are so many complications to this relationship some days and I just never feel good enough for the guy. His mother helped to take that all away. That is such a beautiful thing for me.
This is what I am taking with me into my Yoga practice. Yoga has always been good for my body, always helped to ease my mind. But Yoga has no place in my heart when my heart is torn and broken. There is only so much that can be done to heal the Spirit, no matter how hard you try, no matter how hard you pray, no matter how much time and effort you put in on the mat. I am very happy with my current boyfriend. I do mean, very. It’s that kind of happiness that makes you question the entire rest of your life, where you are sitting agape wondering if you had ever had a clue before about what real love is or was or could be, and why you had to wait so long to experience something so magical like this. Real true love is actually Free. There are none of the strings attached, none of the fears of coming loss or impending doom, none of the tawdry little games that come with the almost but just not quite there real thing. Real love is this pure blast from the Universe that draws you up and draws you in, turns you upside down and inside out, melds your soul with that of another and still has you come out feeling like a whole in and of yourself, only somehow better. I have that now. If anything in my world has ever made me question how retarded things were in my past—this relationship does that, all the time. I am amazed by the time I wasted. Yet, I keep telling myself, if I had not gone through all that I had gone through, I would not be the person that I am right now, and this relationship would be nothing more than friendship and not the true love that we have.
This is the space, the wide-open heart, which I have never had to be able to bring to my Yoga practice. When I came to my mat, I brought what I had, which was wherever I was at the time. As of yesterday, I am all here. Mind, body, heart, soul. I am here. Now. The shift has been nothing short of spectacular for me.
I do not usually do a Vinyasa practice. I have been keeping to the more slow, more restorative Asana practices of late, with a little Vinyasa thrown in now and then. Yesterday, instead of a flowing meditative gentle respite through my Yoga as I normally do, I chose to work through a Vinyasa flow, a level 2 flow, although I didn’t realize that til last night. It was an hour’s long Vinyasa flow series. It was entirely liberating on so many fronts. There was that new openness in my heart. The Vinyasa practice cracked into something, opened up what I call a Yoga Flow through my body, and made an indelible impression. The Yoga Flow of which I speak is basically the way my body moves after an extended amount of time with and on my mat. This is the normal space I was in during those three to five hour a day practice, on and off the mat. There is a lightness of foot, a flowing over the ground, swimming through the air instead of trudging through it. It’s such a tiny little shift in perception, but it is one I cherish and one until this morning I didn’t realize I was missing.
I spent the whole day floating through my daily routine. There was a different tilt to my spine, a different cadence to my walk. There was a different purity of heart with which I approached various tasks. It doesn’t hurt that I didn’t do any real writing at all yesterday. I played with magazine images and glue and worked up some basic collages. I started many more than I finished, but the artistic expression helped. It also pushed me ever closer to learning to draw. That is a tale for another time.
I am a certified Yoga Instructor. I am certified to teach Yoga to children. I am a certified Meditation Instructor. Do I do any of these things? Not for anyone but myself. I undertook these paths of study for my own edification. The children’s Yoga was for my own children and for the benefit of our family.
Do you know what I have not been taught in all these years of reading and pursuing and studying Yoga to the best of my ability? No one has ever mentioned that the physical benefits of Yoga extend so many years into the future. If I started my Yoga practice in 1997, then I had less than three years of steady Yoga practice. Plus, it was a year or so before I started the three to five hour stretches of Yoga every day, much less the power Yoga concept. That small amount of time is what I have been living on and building on top of ever since, with short bursts of re-incorporating Yoga for a month or two here and there. Sometimes longer periods of time, but it has never been so consistent as it was prior to November, 1999. That is, until recently.
Now, I have read the studies that say if you are in an accident or ill, confined to a bed, immobile for whatever reason, you can imagine yourself doing your daily Yoga practice and still reap the same benefits. I also maintain some sort of daily breath-work practice no matter what happens. I have never been to Lamaze training, with three pregnancies, and I have no reason to ever go. I trust my Yogic breathing techniques over that any day. Not to mention, it is through my breath-work I can ease my temper. I have young children-I need that ease. Some days more than others. I know there are lasting effects with Yoga practice. I know with consistent practice “you will never grow old”. No one told me that for, I will say two years of steady practice, I could live off the energetic reserves for roughly ten years, with little need of recharging on a consistent basis.
No one ever told me ever told me that the Yoga postures you do are encoded into your physical form either. I have only been steadily dedicated for a couple weeks now. My body quickly realigned itself and spread open into the poses far more than I would have claimed possible when first I re-started this time. I still have room to work and to grow, but I am still quite overwhelmed by how my body expanded into certain poses so rapidly. I expected there to be a period of building up, working into poses again, loosening the joints and the ligaments and so on. There is some resistance, but nowhere near what I had assumed I would be up against.
No one ever mentions that space between the heart and the head to me. Yoga is all about the union of body and mind, earth and heaven. I know this. I understand it. I know I come to my mat with an open heart. I didn’t realize my heart was so closed in spite of myself. Nor did I really taste the truth until I was on my mat, engaged in an active Vinyasa Flow practice, where my open heart blossomed over and flooded me from heart to soul to body and back, just how powerful an experience it could be to fully open up to Yoga and the embrace of the Divine within myself.
That is where I am, in that space, wrapped in the loving embrace of the Divine within myself. My body is aligned differently. I am moving as if gliding through the space around me, rather than pushing and shoving my way through. My heart is definitely aligned differently, but being in love does that. Finding your true partner, your other half, the soul mate for whom you have been searching whether you knew it or not, does that to a person. My mind and my spirit are one. My body is at peace. This is the bliss of which the Yogis speak. This is the space of true contentment.