The ability to focus only on breathing in, breathing out, and infusing the body with oceanic breath is something I never thought I would be able to do, let alone to enjoy. As a person whose mind is constantly whirring with thoughts both trivial and deep, shutting off the part of me that doubts, that wonders and that negates is a constant struggle. In the past, the suggestion that I might benefit from meditation or yoga provoked skepticism in my perfectionist on hyper-drive soul. Engage in an activity simply to relax? I think not. However, once I let myself try yoga I quickly discovered a few things: firstly, that the world wouldn’t stop if I checked out of the rat race and on to the mat for a while. In fact, focusing on calming the inner whirlwind helped me to weather the storms that might develop later in my day. The second lesson that yoga taught me was that I could, in fact, focus on my breath and not on external worries. For the first few times I practiced, admittedly, I did focus on the aesthetic aspect of what I was doing, wondering whether the poses looked “right” or if I was doing something “wrong”. Before I discovered that breathing in and out of the poses and thinking of sending my breath to the tension points in my body helped me to ease my way into the asanas, I would muscle my way into a pretzel and feel, well, not so great. Allowing myself to focus on breathing enabled me to let go, and in turn helped me to sink deeper and master poses that seemed impossible before.
Though I still cannot perform a headstand or master crow pose, that is ok. Yoga is continuing to teach me that doing what feels right at the moment is doing myself a great service. Forcing myself into contortions unfamiliar is not only dangerous, but not beneficial to the furthering of my practice. Something I’ve always had trouble accepting is that I don’t have to do everything “perfectly”. I’d like to say that I could embrace this mentality in my whole life, that I applied the lessons I’ve learned so far in my yogic journey in my whole life. I’d be lying. I still force and “muscle” into other aspects of my life, and often push past my edges, rather than toward them. I’m no where near being able to listen and fully give in to my body and my inner (genius) yogi, but considering it at all is a huge step in the right direction. Calming my mind for even a few minutes a day is a huge success, and I have yoga to thank for that. And though yoga has also toned my chicken arms into somewhat stronger appendages, the benefits of my practice far exceed the physical. In fact, yoga is one activity that I do when I want to, because it feels right. I think Iyengar would approve. I’m looking forward to continuing to deepen my yoga practice and further my understanding of the meditative movement.