by guest author Lynda Miers-Henneveld of Yoga Unlimited
Yoga teaches us to embrace the natural rhythms of life.
Through our practice we can ground ourselves in times of instability, or motivate and energise ourselves when we feel stuck.
A personal practice has to reflect our changing circumstances if it is to support us in our journey through this life. If we stay present to what is happening in our bodies, minds and hearts, we can adapt our practice intuitively.
As the lessons we learn on the mat begin to infuse our lives, we become more skilled at opening to grace and meeting everyday challenges mindfully.
Our practice reflects our lives in its plateaus and transitions. Sometimes we are inspired and find great clarity, and this may carry over into our lives as confidence or physical strength. We may be inspired to take on a challenge from which we would normally shy away.
At other times we feel frustrated at the seeming repetitiveness of certain themes or physical restrictions, and this may translate as impatience. If we come back time and time again to the careful observations of our mind, body and breath, we will begin to see the subtle shifts that are taking place, even though on the surface we seem to be stuck. Then we will know what is required, and the appropriate practice will reveal itself to us.
We may feel a sense of loss at letting go of a practice that has sustained us through a certain phase. For instance, if a strong asana practice has been helpful at a time when physical strength was our greatest need, we may fail to see that it is exhausting us when our personal circumstances call for rest or reflection. It’s not always immediately clear when our practice is out of sync with our life, but again, if we observe carefully, we see our restlessness or inertia as signposts to a slight change in direction that will inspire our practice and ease the transitions that are part of our evolution.
When I attended my first yoga class, I was a mother of one-year-old twins. My main motivation to try yoga at that stage was to become fitter, stronger and more able to cope with the physical demands of parenting two small children. The practice certainly delivered its promise of increased strength and flexibility, and learning to relax fully in Savasana was a great way to combat the exhaustion of dealing with two active toddlers.
As my children grew older yoga made its way into family life. Many after-school conversations were had in Viparita Karani, the three of us lying side by side on the dining room floor, with our legs up the wall. The pose slowed us all down enough to really connect and share the events of the day. This incidental yoga became as valuable to me as my formal practice.
My children are now in their last year of high school. It’s obvious that the end of this year will mark a major transition for us as a family. A shift such as this is inevitably tinged with sadness, as we leave behind the familiar patterns of family life. It’s also full of excitement, as they make big decisions about their future, and we all find a new sense of direction. The fear of letting go of the familiar can be eased by the realisation that this letting go creates an opportunity to embrace something new more wholeheartedly.
In the past few weeks it has become clear to me that my practice has been a little out of sync with my life. A sense of restlessness and lack of focus has made me realise that it’s time to reassess how my practice can better serve to balance my energy. Here too, there needs to be some letting go of familiar patterns, so that new ones can emerge.
I don’t need to know what form these new patterns will take.
I simply need to slow down enough to let the rhythms of my life reveal them to me.
I need to recover a rhythm in my heart that moves my body first and my mind second; that allows my soul to catch up with me. I need to take a sacred pause, as if I were a sun-warmed rock in the centre of a rushing river. – Dawna Markova
Lynda has been teaching yoga in Wellington for many years. Inspired by many teachers, like Donna Farhi, Judith Lasater, Nicky Knoff and Twee Merrigan, she aims to create a safe and supportive environment in which students are free to explore their own experience of yoga. Lynda is co-owner of Yoga Unlimited on Tory Street, Wellington.