We are taught to control the body by way of the mind, which is considered far superior. But the body has an intelligence whose mysteries the mind has yet to fathom. We read in books how to eat, how to make love, how much sleep to get, and impose these practices on the body rather than listening from within.
Anodea Judith, Eastern Body, Western Mind
Does it smell like bacon all of a sudden? I swear, every now and then in a yoga class I inhale a waft of some sort of greasy meat. I don’t think it’s because I’m hungry, or maybe I am… Seriously, people be sweatin out their dinners in yoga class and sometimes that shit does not smell so good. Luckily, tonight I smelled bacon. Mmmm.
There’s no doubt I’m living in the present moment. I may not be consciously thinking about my body, but the scent is real, confronting my nasal passages, my brain and my belly, and challenging me to stay focused. “This is your practice,” as my favorite teacher says. Bacon, sweat, strange noises… all of those fun aspects of yoga class confront us and bring us back to our intention. Why did I decide to come to class anyways? I don’t think it was for the breakfast tacos…
Yoga helps me to stay focused, rooted and grounded. Pressing your hands and feet continuously into the ground is a physical reminder that it’s there. And connecting to the earth helps us to reconnect with ourselves. So it’s a nice little situation we have created for ourselves on our mats.
One of my favorite yoga teachers explained Revolved Triangle Pose by comparing your feet and your hand to the stems and roots of a flower. The more you plant your limbs into your mat and find stability in your core, the more easily you can twist your spine and extend your arm. It’s much more challenging to lengthen your upper body towards the sky when you can barely balance. And when you wobble or fall, you realize that what’s missing is your sense of stability.
In order to manifest, we must be able to accept limitation. We have to be able to focus on what we want to be to be specific about it. We have to able to stick with it long enough for manifestation to occur.
The ground is a reminder not only to come back to the present moment, but also of what’s lacking. Our limitations. In yoga it could be that certain muscles are weak, tight or overstretched… It could be you can’t seem to concentrate or you’re tired. These realizations may be annoying or uncomfortable, but at least they allow you to recognize a couple things, like the fact that:
a) You’re not perfect. There’s room for improvement and you don’t have all of your shit together. So what. That’s everybody.
b) You can’t control everything and everybody. The universe is VAST, i.e. it’s immeasurable, boundless, and limitless.
Essentially, what grounds us and roots us most is our core. Our core values, our core strength, our sense of peace within ourselves that we carry into every situation and relationship will affect the outcome and our experience of each moment in our life. I’ve noticed that when I act out of a place of feeling unsettled, unsure or insecure, the outcome is not usually in my favor, and sometimes affects others negatively as well.
Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.
Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart
Accepting my limitations is a constant battle. I don’t want to make mistakes. I often fear them. For some reason it’s easier to trust other people’s opinions rather than my own intuition. And sometimes that’s where the mistakes begin. Denying my insufficiency, fearing it, keeps me stuck in a cycle. I have been in it. Trust me, I know. Coming back to my mat gently reminds me as my muscles shake and I fall that the ground is there to catch me, every time. I am supported. I’m not perfect but I am enough. I need these reminders every day. This is my yoga practice.