Today is a beautiful day. The sky is clear and sunny, and on my way this morning to teach my 9am vinyasa class at Equinox Columbus Circle I saw the throngs of runners on their way to Central Park for a morning 4 mile race. I love to see runners because I am one, and they often inspire me and remind me of the passion and commitment that bubbles up when you make the effort – getting up early, putting on the clothes, packing some food, etc etc. I am so grateful to my students as they too inspire me. They are up early, often in the studio before I get there, warming up, breathing into the space. Their energy and commitment brings my fulfillment, and we have reciprocity, that elusive quality we are always seeking out in any relationship or endeavor.
Next week I will include some more concrete physiological yoga/how-does-that-work-stuff…but today’s blog is all about much more abstract adaptations of the concepts of helping, giving, receiving and learning – how do those ideas and concepts play out in our lives…?
This morning in class I was helping a student with her headstand. This is a particularly dedicated student, always expressive with a positive attitude, great listening skills and insightful and thoughtful commentary. As I finished helping her stabilize her inversion, I asked her how it felt to be upside down like that, and if it was OK. Her reply, was yes, it felt great, and that she was able to do that because of my help. I thought about that for a second. It reminded me of how amazing it feels when we encounter something or someone in our lives that brings us to a place we have always wanted to go – but were somehow not able to get there on our own. This can signify a place internally for us, like an emotional place that perhaps we have always been wary of exploring, fearful of what we may find. This can be a “place” as in some aspect of ourselves that we didn’t even know was there – maybe creativity, imagination, ambition, intellect. This can also mean a literal place, or event, like performing a headstand, and experiencing the freedom that comes with confronting fear and accepting whatever assistance we need to take it step by step, inch by inch, until we feel we can manage and “stabilize” without direct help. So the question is…did I help her? Or is it more significant that I there at the right time where she was able to accept the help, and discover for herself what was and has always been there – a sense of adventure, strength and fearlessness, curiosity, investigation – in short, a solid headstand.
I think we all have tremendous potential for various facets of life, whether it gets expressed through the work we perform, the partnerships we create and nurture, or the impact we have on those around us. I also believe there is a metaphor within yoga practice for discovering this potential, as our bodies become the vehicle for this journey. Yoga can give us the permission we crave to explore, peek behind corners of tightly bound muscle and connective tissue, and see what lies underneath. What is waiting to be discovered, led up to a headstand, and eventually sustain itself? Maybe that role of teacher is our professional life, maybe it is someone in our personal life. If we are fortunate to have a teacher who nurtures that path of discovery, again we have reciprocity. We give and receive, finding balance between strength, practice and stillness. We can feel satisfied knowing this is a process that never ends, and there are many more beautiful days ahead…