Erase the Ego: Engage the Breath
My twenty-year daily practice affords me the time to be at one with my breath and body while quieting my mind. Short and furious, or long and strenuous, my series feels incomplete without a glow. Trained in an energetic and unconventional path, I have a high tolerance for unexplored territory, especially in terms of pushing my edge. Yet on a recent jaunt to LA with my children, I had the opportunity to begin again, to push into the soft and gentle of Hatha, instead of the more assertive, Vinyasa-based practice to which I have grown accustomed.
Early in my training, I rejected slower paced yoga as something anathema to my high-strung nervous system. I needed to blow out my nadi system, to purify and calm my monkey mind. Slow classes made me angsty, as I had time to think about all the other stuff I should be doing. When I moved into Ashtanga and the rocket series, I found a place to hang my mind on — my breath and my movement of body with my breath. In the back of my mind, from my study, I knew that these asanas are only the third of eight legs of yoga, used to assist in the ability to sit still (without distractions) — one of the more, if not most difficult acts in our contemporary world. After twenty years, perhaps it was time to test how well it had worked on a fidget like myself.
This yoga was offered free through our hotel. How could I turn down an early class on Santa Monica's vista of sand and surf? Yes, I could have grabbed a mat and practiced alone, but I felt drawn to community in this experience. The other participants, mothers and travellers like myself, arrived with far less experience on the mat than me and, in that moment, I made a choice to leave ego at the door and flow with the teacher at a slower pace than my usual seventy-two poses variation. I decided to let go of the teacher self and fully immerse in the student self and open to the lesson offered with such grace. The heat and shifting sand melted away notions of ease despite the abbreviated sequence and simplified movements.
With nothing to prove, no preconceived notions, I freed myself from bonds of expectation and assumption. Without feigning, I retrieved innocence in that moment...I explored weakness and strength without shame. Within my practice, energy built that asked to shift. It required me to shift myself, open to the stranger, release my script and, with great thanks to Denise and Santa Monica beach, I released self-doubt as I explored the great and continuous awakening of yoga.