I have dabbled a bit with yoga on and off throughout my life and am about to resume my practice. To me, yoga is a physical work that unites mind, body, and spirit. Every session, every pose, every moment - your practice becomes how you move and allow energy to resonate and revel within you.
The last time I focused on my yoga practice was when I lived in Sedona. I explored yoga and specifically Bikram. An avid distance runner, I began to experience a mild form of hypoxia not uncommon with intense physical activity at altitude. I took this as opportunity to change up my running program. Yet, I quickly found myself missing that long, intense workout that goes with distance running. Thus… Bikram.
In my very first session, I spent almost half of it lying on my mat in a pool of sweat barely able to breathe. While I was lying there not completely sure I would see the light of day again, I also had this twisted sense that I was on to something. So naturally, I kept going (that's just how I roll).
Bikram is a guided session and the facilitator reminds us that we are here to share energy and work our own practice. There is no judgment. There is no standard of performance. It’s not a competition. There is no such thing as perfection in yoga beyond this: you are as perfect as you are in that moment, in that session. You are perfect even if you are lying on your mat sweating and wondering about your ability to survive. There is no ego in yoga. Part of the intention in the process is letting go, getting out of your head, and allowing you to accept yourself as you are.
It was easy for me to get the part about yoga that it’s not a competition. I will push myself to the limit and challenge myself to no end. Beating someone else at something really doesn’t do it for me. The challenge for me was to learn that practice was not about perfecting the pose, it was about releasing the need for mastery and achievement. I had to let go of the voice of the inner-competitor in favor of a stronger, unifying energy across mind, body and spirit.
As I worked on this, a weird thing started to happen. I started to have greater awareness of the energy in the room around me. Even though practice is an individual journey, I was finding that part of the journey involves creating a gentle awareness of your presence in the room. No one was there clapping or whooping or cheering me. It was a quiet assurance that I was not alone in this world and I was not alone in this work.
I considered what would happen if I began to apply what I was learning in Bikram to my life. If I approached life not so much as a drive to achieve and succeed, but as a process to let go and allow, what would that look like? When we allow ourselves to be imperfect and real, the world opens up around us. We might find the encouragement and assurance we need to remind us that that we don't travel alone. And this, well this keeps us in the practice – of yoga – and life.
Keep stretching (and sweating)! Namaste...
**sneak peek - from my upcoming book expected to be published later this year**