It's a phrase I've said a lot this week. "Yoga is Magic!" I've been in inquiry as to why. What is it causing me to utter these words? I got to the root of it this morning.
It all started Friday. I went into a yoga class with a sour attitude. I'm not sure when it began, really. Maybe it was walking into Walmart this past week and seeings busloads of migrant workers pouring into the store. Maybe it was being triggered thinking about cleaning (I often do it to try and suppress some other feeling or emotion happening). Whatever it was, I walked in thinking yoga would magically fix everything. Spoiler alert: It didn't. When I think about it, this is often the case. I think it's easy to think if we just go to yoga class and do the thing, all our ailments, all our problems, all our worries, will just magically go away. That's what yoga does, right? Actually... no. Really, I find the longer I practice yoga, the easier it is to do it mindlessly. To go through the motions. It's a default. What yoga is really for, is disrupting our defaults, our habitual patterns, our "business as usual" thinking.
And sometimes: those thoughts or feelings or patterns do NOT want to be disrupted.
Take anxiety, for example. I've experienced bouts of it this week. I get this knot in the pit of my stomach that doesn't want to go away- like a stomach ache without the pain- this swirling and churning in my belly that rises up to my throat. I'm learning to catch it, to see it starting to rear it's ugly head. That's a great first step. And. I can be 100% aware of my anxiety and make a conscious choice to do nothing about it. Why? Anxiety is easy. It's predictable. I know how to manage it. I know what thoughts are coming, even if they don't serve me. I know what actions are coming with it (often veracious cleaning and interrogation of Tim as to why he hasn't put any of his lacroix cans int he recycling). In some ways, it's comforting. I know however, in the long run, that it doesn't serve me. In this situation, yoga provides a gateway. A way to see my choices, to see my defaults, to see the patterns I cling to... and it interrupt them. Interruptions don't always feel good and aren't always easy breezy. They can feel jolting and alarming and life upending. That's why we breathe in yoga. Because really, none of these things are that horrible. They're mostly just drama created by the mind. The breath gets us out of our head, our minds... and into our bodies Info feeling. Into experiencing. Staying for a breath longer than I want to in chair pose reminds me I can do hard things. I can have the conversation. I can make a choice to do something other than clean when I feel anxious. Changing the placement of my hands and feet in down dog reminds me to be flexible- to let go of rigidity- and to see things from a new perspective. All the little things I do on my yoga mat make a difference. They are actions. My teacher Baron recently said there is a difference between being aware and being awake. The difference, to me, is action. We are awake when we make the conscious choice to do something with the awareness we've been given
Honestly- awareness (at least now, to me) feels like the cop out. I'm aware. So what? What am I going to do about it? That's the real question.
So even now, as I sit here and type these words, I feel the pressure release valve going off. I was in default last night- being so hard on myself for no feeling, for numbing out, for not experiencing things like I thought I should be. I knew I needed to write, because writing, for me, disrupts the default. It get me out of my head and into my body, much like yoga. Then, I can see more clearly. I make better choices from my body space. And I'm a heck of a lot kinder to myself, too. So, when you get on your mat this week, consider where you are in default, and how you can take action to disrupt business as usual, as a way of creating the magic that happens in yoga. Really, the magic is created by you!