The Gift Of Being Present (With Yourself)
It is a common mistake both for a new teacher or student to think that yoga is just for the physical fitness. But many years of turning up to my mat through a full range of energy, emotions and mental states- particularly those that are difficult, unpleasant or uncomfortable, has turned up all sorts of valuable insights, slowly revealing my deviations from truth so that my course may be corrected, my higher Self revealed. Like that old analogy of slowly polishing the mirror.
Yoga is “Union” - of the body, mind and spirit. And by working with the postures, the breath and attention you can begin to achieve that. But we need to look at all of it, the big picture. You wouldn’t say you knew someone well if you only ever saw them when they were happy, or when they were only depressed. On the other hand, you could say you know someone well when you have seen them through a full range of emotions and mental states, observing how they cope when they’re angry or sad. Likewise, there can be so much to be gained by turning up to your mat when you are feeling “under the weather”, depressed, anxious, exhausted, grieving and all those other feelings that we find unpleasant.
Yoga offers a time and place to acknowledge and accept ourselves and where we are at. To sit with the feelings pleasant and unpleasant and let them unfold with honesty and integrity.
We are very good at masking the unpleasant and finding ways to block them from our consciousness- little distractions like housework, getting on the computer, phone, tv, fitness or eating. We are VERY good at being busy! Much of the time we don’t even know that we are doing it or why.
Yoga brings us back- out of our head and emotions, out of the past and the future, into the present. By paying attention to the details, to the sensations through the body, we may start to see correlations between where our mind and emotions lie and the sensations that we feel. Turning our senses inward- listening, feeling, hearing, tasting. In this way we really honour the body. Like when we listen and be completely present for a friend. Here, we give this gift to ourselves.
Sometimes, when I’ve been exhausted or unwell or some other emotional thing has been happening I have had the most present of practices. Too exhausted to allow attention to drift onto insignificant things. Any pain or discomfort holding me with such intense awareness. Movements are slower, more deliberate. There is only here. Now.
Yoga gives us tools to be in a true connection with ourself in any moment, regardless of the quality of energy. Quieting ourselves to our experience to allow the truth to unfold, deepening our connection with our self through honour and recognition.
Don’t just leave it as a ‘fair weather’ practice. I recommend continuing yoga practice through these challenging times, slowly, attentively, intuitively. Choose a space you feel comfortable in. If you do choose to turn up to class in one of these states have a quiet word to your teacher and put your mat at the back or the side of the class where you can be more in your own space.
Unroll your mat, sit and listen.