My first yoga teacher training was 12 years ago, during a time when my life was filled with ease in nearly all ways. I lived in an off-grid jungle cabin. I slept well, ate well, had an abundance of time all to myself and few responsibilities to bear. Teacher training filled my days, and I quickly became immersed in what I thought was the life of a Yogi.
I loved the movement of the physical Ashtanga-based yoga practice. I loved how it flowed from one pose to the next, keeping my mind focused on the task at hand. Perfect the pose. Stretch further. Go deeper.
But one of the things that sticks out in my mind from that training is how much I hated the pauses in the practice. I struggled to maintain the stillness in the holds, to take full deep breaths and to create space to Be. I felt restless, impatient, like these breaks in movement were a waste of time. So instead, I prioritized my posture and how fully I could express the pose and how well I was doing them.
Returning to this practice these last couple weeks has given me an insight into how much of the actual Yoga, (derived from the Sanskrit word Yuj: to yoke, unite or become one), that I was missing back then. True union, true merging with Self and Source does not happen in our moments of doing. It happens in our moments of serenity, when we stop running ourselves ragged and allow ourselves space to breath. Letting go of our need to do anything at all, we open ourselves to the infinite capacity of life to flow through us without resistance.
In this personal period of unraveling, I have learned to love the pauses. They remind me that it is in these moments of stillness, in practice and in life, that the greatest opportunities for connection and healing arise.
But in our society, the pressure to constantly do things is pervasive. Our culture values productivity over peace, caffeine over contemplation and rewards exhaustion with a badge of honor. But what if that is something we can change in our own personal realities?
What if we didn’t do what we have to do today? What if we cancelled our child’s therapy and didn’t answer all the emails and told our friends that we couldn’t make it to the playdate? What if we went ahead and let people be disappointed in us and decided to trust that we know what is best for ourselves? What if, just for today, we didn’t do all the things that others expected us to do and instead, we gave ourselves the gift of grace? The opportunity to remember who we are and what we need to survive the chaotic storms we become caught within…
What if we sat outside in the sunshine on a blanket and breathed in some fresh air or curled up in front of a crackling fire and watched the flames dance? Could we allow ourselves these unburdened moments without guilt? Without shame? Could we make peace with the fact that the caregiver in us needs care too?
What if, just for today, we gave ourselves permission to pause, to rest, to fully, presently Be. Here. Now.
I wonder what we’d find.