Yoga is NOT easy…

July 31, 2013

Supta kurmasana, reclining tortoise

Supta kurmasana, reclining tortoise

I woke up this morning with this thought, “Yoga is NOT easy.” I love yoga. In fact I couldn’t see a life without it. It makes me relax, forget, focus, contemplate, cry. It’s healing and that’s why it’s not easy. Facing our fears is not easy. Relaxing is not easy. Forgetting is not easy. Focussing is not easy. Contemplating is not easy. Crying is not easy. But it makes me happy too, and sometimes even makes me laugh.

I’ve been doing it for a long time. Too many years to count at this point, but since 2010 I’ve been practicing the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga method, the way it was taught by the late Sri K. Pattabhi Jois. “Practice and all is coming,” he was famous for saying. Well I’ve been practicing. Every day! It is coming and has come in many forms. I feel it. It’s magical. I can’t really explain it. You have to be in it to believe it. It throws curve balls at you and all of the sudden it becomes unclear as to what, exactly, is coming. You experience moments of doubts, especially when you can’t get in to a certain pose and you’ve been at it for 2 years straight. Supta Kurmasana is that pose for me. I’m binding my hands behind my back. I even have my legs behind my head, but not without assistance from my teacher. I wonder who is more frustrated, me or him. “It’s all in the breathing, the opening of the chest, pushing the sternum forward…relax” he explains. In theory, I get it, but in practice opening the heart is at times very difficult. It’s emotional. I feel vulnerable. I’ve been at practice when I’ve cried uncontrollably, frustrated, sad, knowing, not knowing, confused… total break down, or perhaps break through. I have my moments. Yoga tests you… and ultimately, it’s not about the pose at all, whether you get it or not. It’s the process that’s important. Can you let go, surrender, and just be? That’s what every pose asks.

Kapotasana

Kapotasana

The Ashtanga I practice is taught in different stages, Primary Series, Intermediate Series, and Advance Series. After 3 or so years in Primary, I just started Intermediate and the deep back bends are turning my insides out. I’m experiencing a deep cleanse. In the last few weeks I’ve lost close to 10 pounds and my practice is 2-1/2 hours on average, but yesterday’s was 3. My quads are on fire, my hips are opening so much that the injury I had on the right side is now gone, as is the excruciating pain in my right knee… all gone. My shoulders were killing me for months, but now they feel great. They’re open and strong. My left knee is bugging me these days, but I know it’s temporary as my body is slowly but surely making adjustments to yes, open more still. And Kapotasana is going to help me get there… just as soon as I’m able to slow down and relax my breathing and soften my body… just as soon as I’m able to let go, surrender, and just be. I’ve learned that the aches and pains come and go. It’s normal. It’s life. It’s a beautiful thing.

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