As we step into another lockdown in the UK, I have found myself reflecting on what yoga offers me in this crazy ride of life. Last night after I closed the studio, I stepped onto my mat in badha konasana and I sobbed a little, and that was my practice - as much as the gram makes us think otherwise, yoga is a lot more than handstands in leg warmers and leotards
Each time we step onto the mat, we bring closer to the surface all the feelings that are there somewhere inside - the good & bad, light & dark, soft & harsh. The practice of moving, breathing, meditating and self enquiry, creates space for everything to be viscerally felt in a way that is gentle and free from judgement. When there is resistance and tension around us, yoga does not solve, but can offer equanimity and peace amongst it.
For many, the physical practice is the gateway into yoga, which is great because movement feels bloody amazing and we need to keep the body healthy, but the real work of yoga is a healing modality. It is the process of stripping everything back one layer at time; all the conditioning, all the ideas we have constructed about ourselves, all our experiences - the ‘spring clean’ of the Self. And sometimes what the stripping back reveals to us is uncomfortable - it might be messy. One of my teachers described it as wiping the window of perception clean - (perception is all that clouds the ‘glass’): sometimes we find a difficult part to clean and get stuck, but through consistent practice there is a breakthrough - freedom from whatever was limiting. When the practice remains somewhat stable, what we can measure is our own change, and not in the sense of needing to be ‘fixed’ - I’m learning that we never need fixing. We are always whole and I see yoga as the method of illuminating that wholeness. Like in the asana practice, when we hold in moments of discomfort, seeking the comfort of a steady breath. When we relieve and softly knead out pockets of tension, when we trust our own strength and support. And then when we’ve done all the ‘work’, we come to rest in savasana feeling both completely empty and completely full.
When I approach the practice consistently with joy and curiosity, then over time the ‘changes’ do come - the pause between action and reaction, the non-attachment, fufillment, contentment, stillness, strength, space and the realisation that even when things are hard there is always, always moments of sweetness. There is no end to this work in my eyes, it is always evolving, always expressing but I am slowly letting go of the need to know, letting the guard down, and just enjoying the journey of getting to know myself.