I have had the very great honour of being trusted with my children’s learning these last few weeks, it has given me chance to share with them a mutual love of myth and legend. Whilst reading alongside them I came across this truth “Crucially, myths are also the foundation of religions; they define cultures and codify their values”. Our culture’s myths define our belief system - so the question becomes how are you allowing stories to frame your beliefs around yourself and your practice?
Practice restorative poses this week, create a sequence as a whole or chose just one pose, take your time to be in it but also see if you can catch your feelings in and around these poses, your belief system. Know that you are not “doing it wrong” when these feelings arise - it is all part of the process and the chances are you are right on schedule.
Do you believe you aren’t doing enough, that this isn’t practice? That you should be working harder? Can you reframe what is hard? Stillness is hard, letting go is hard - can you release the grip in the jaw, the belly? For many that is hard.
Do you see it as time for collapse for a nap? Mr Iyengar always said if sleep comes take it as a sign that your system needed it so don’t berate yourself if it happens instead could you find a way to bring more rest to your life? What if you could practice falling awake rather than falling asleep in these poses, what would that feel like?
Are you becoming agitated because you believe you should be emptying your mind and the quiet won’t come? Could you let yourself trust that, for now, the the thoughts will keep coming and that is ok, if you haven’t given yourself space to feel for quite some time, the mind may have some churning to do - let it churn, neither become attached to the churning nor try to fight or hold back the churning, simply step back and allow - trust that over time (minutes, days, weeks, years…) it will settle, it will slow - the thoughts will still wander in from time to time but they will not ruffle the consciousness the way they once did.
How do you feel about taking the appropriate support to find ease within the pose? Do you lay your props out with care the way you would lay the table for a beloved guest, or do you throw them down and hope for the best? Are you not the beloved guest within your pose?
The essence of these poses is to be with yourself, to hear your stories and over time, with practice, find comfort and ease in the pose and in your own skin, to come home to yourself. This is not an easy practice, but it is ultimately a deeply rewarding and restorative one, as Glennon Doyle says “We can do hard things”. Don’t force, just be. Opening the chest can be overwhelming especially if there is underlying grief so if you find yourself there just sit, or lay with your spine supported, find your ground, take in the sensation of support and let that be enough for today.
Finally another poem to accompany the week:
"Wild Geese" by Mary Oliver
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting--
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
In this time of uncertainty I have no wish to add to the noise in this world. I leave these writings for those I have shared Yoga with, so our community may continue and flourish - as ever take what you need and leave the rest...