This week, I dropped the interview with Iyengar teacher Shaw-Jiun Wang. Click on Podcasts on the website or go to Little Big Moments wherever you listen to podcasts. She had so much to say that it just about killed me to edit out some gems.
She said two things that really struck me. Transformation or change can only occur if you want to change. Change requires some discomfort we don’t like and aren’t very patient with discomfort. It requires letting go. Yikes
We are trained to accumulate to be happy. But letting go?! What?!
Bring to mind something you want to change. What are you willing to let go of? Do you immediately feel this tightness in your chest as things come to mind you are not willing to let go of? Or do you think “letting go? Sure, I have no problem with that.”
I , personally come from a family that would get an olympic medal in grudges. My grandmother, who I loved with every fiber of my being was the champ. What is it that made her hold onto silly grudges that ruined 30 year old friendships? I’m not talking about letting go of unhealthy friendships because she didn’t let go, anytime the topic came up the same old story started. I never understood really what happened. Because that’s how it is. We hold onto things that over time, lose their significance. Remembering, you might still feel that anger rise in your body but then you think why don’t we talk?”
Maybe you don’t have this experience with people but with yourself or your practice.
There are many terms in the yoga sutras that refer to surrender, detachment or letting go. Vairagya is one and it’s expressed in relation to the practice, abhyasa. Like two wings of a bird, practice needs effort and consistency as well as detachment. We learn this in Savasana and why it is considered one of the most difficult poses.
Yesterday, I was working with my dear friend and she had her legs up on the chair as the last pose. I said, let your legs drop into the chair, allow gravity to release the legs into the socket. She was surprised that her legs could relax more.
We don’t even know it when we are holding on, gripping or just not taking the support offered to us.
Maybe right now, you have the opportunity to practice more or maybe due to your schedule you are working on letting go of expectations of a fully focused practice on the mat, practicing in micro moments that might be a conscious breath, a dance to your favorite song or one pose between caretaking, working, cooking or cleaning.
There is so much this new life is forcing us to let go of. Some of these things are improvements in our lives and others are painful and we are deeply grieving.
Right now, sensitivity to what you need is of the upmost importance. You might need to let go of the idea that you need a good “work out.” Or you might come to realize that you need to get off the bolster and get your blood and prana moving.
How attached are you to the type of practice you need?
So this week’s practice support is to look at what you can let go of. This can be done with any pose.
Do the pose and hold the pose for an extended time. If your mind is tricky, as all of our minds are, set a timer. As you are in the pose and it’s getting challenging to stay, what can you let go of? Is it a physical action or a mental action.
Just for this exercise, resist wanting to add something like a prop or chanting or looking around or picking up your cat or checking your phone. Let go.
Exhale twice as long. Exhale profoundly, try these two types of exhalation. What happens? What does it give you?
Now, the second is more of a mental letting go. Choose a pose that is really difficult for you. Is it your body that resists or your mind? Or Both?
Start with 2-3 poses that help you with the actions of your chosen pose to prepare, like I showed with Down Dog in a previous blog.
Start to progressively do your chosen pose. What are steps to learning or doing this pose? What supports do you need?
If you don’t get to the final pose, what do you think of yourself? Are you attached to doing the final pose as success?
Shaw mentions the moment of entering a pose where fear comes up and then just staying there, in the fear, feeling it. This is the most interesting moment, not the doing but the not-doing and observing.
How often do you run away from uncomfortable feelings? But if you stay, does it pass? Can you stay 1 minute today and maybe then 2 minutes tomorrow? Are you patient enough, Shaw asks.
This is a challenging practice I’m giving you. The practice of yoga is a penetrative, involutionary process through our layers (koshas) from body to breath to mind to wisdom and finally the layer of bliss or the soul.
As Prashant Iyengar says yoga is not a work out , it’s a work in. This is a practice to learn how to work in.
Why does Savasana feel so delicious? Because, after a focused practice you are closer to universal source or consciousness, the divine, the inner wisdom - you choose the word that makes the most sense to you. For me, I’m not exactly sure what it is. I don’t have an icon or idea but I do have a feeling in Savasana or watching a baby bunny run across the field at sunset.
Happy Practicing to all of you