Have you ever noticed, that when the time is right for us to learn a lesson, that lesson comes to us from a variety of places? The same theme, the same message might come from a book you're reading, a line in a movie or a song, a speaker you hear, a yoga teacher, conversations with friends. It's like once you're ready to learn something, the teaching will come. I guess it's that old adage, when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.
This week, apparently, Angie Wellman is to learn about letting go. Actually, I think this might be the lesson of this year for me :) See, I seem to like to be in control. Can anyone out there relate? I like to know what's going to happen, when it's going to happen, how it's going to happen. I can create entire worlds of hopes and plans in my mind, and then I try to manipulate the world, to make those things happen. I want to know why. I want to figure it out. I want to solve the problem, act, make things happen the way I want them to happen. If I feel pain, I want to avoid that, so I get busy making changes. Escape plans, usually :) When I have an experience that makes me feel really happy, I want to repeat that (who wouldn't), so I plan and scheme and act to try to make it happen again, to try to recapture that magical moment, that magical time. Only, it never seems to be as wonderful when I've "made" it happen again... there are actually yogic teachings about that - that pain and suffering come when we get attached to something that made us feel happy, and we try to repeat it.
Anyway, I think this week's lesson was in letting go of all that. Letting go of figuring it out. Letting go of making life happen. Letting go of the intention to repeat the happy things I've had in the past. Letting go of sadness, letting go of expectations. Just letting go.
I taught a class on Monday, and I set the intention for my class, to release and let go. We did a lot of forward bends - standing forward bends, seated forward bends, apanasana, wide leg forward bends, child's pose. Forward bends are about release. About letting go. We spend all day standing upright, with our front body exposed to the world. Forward bends allow us to draw inward, use gravity to open the back body, and calm our minds as we exhale deeply. I also asked my students to breath, using a 1:2 ratio - inhale for a count of 4 or 5, then exhale for twice that length - perhaps for 8 or 10 counts. These long exhalations allow our body to release more, but also calm our mind. Long exhales calm the nervous system, let our bodies know it's safe to just let go, and bring a deep stillness to our mind and body. I really enjoyed sharing the class with my students, and people entered into a really deep savasana.
Then, Tuesday night, I went to my teacher's yoga class. Right now, I feel the need to go to my own classes regularly, to learn from my teacher and get connected with my body and breath. And guess what her class was about? Yep, forward bends, releasing, and letting go! Delightful! And after her class, I went into such a deep relaxation in savasana, my body and mind fully released and I went to that beautiful place of absolute quiet and stillness.
So with several days of forward bends and the intention of letting go, I noticed some subtle shifts in my consciousness. A feeling of knowing it was time to let go of some pain I'd been carrying. Time to let go of heaviness and burdens. A clarity about releasing the intense expectations I have of myself, to be and do certain things.
And today I feel a little softer inside. A little freer. And for me, that is what yoga is all about. Lovely.