If you don't want someone to find something, hide it in the present.
I hate Winter. I can't stand the cold, the bare trees, shoveling myself out of the snow, and the wet, muddy, freezing slush that covers all running trails. The days are shorter and darker, and all I can think about is speeding up time. I wish I could skip through the three months of ice. But living in the future or past is no way to live. As the world-renowned Edna Mode once said, "I never look back, darling. It distracts from the now."
I'm no stranger to the irony presented in a blog post that's pushing for living in the present while its content is usually analyzing the past. But there is a place and time for taking a moment to look back to improve yourself in the present. This blog is a perfect example of this. Using this platform as a sounding board for my reflections has helped me improve my way of thinking. I'm starting to look at every current moment with a different mindset.
Michael Stone describes how to be present in The Inner Tradition of Yoga. He says connecting to the breath and letting go of the story of "I, me, and mine" is key. According to Stone, yoga asks us to stay with our feelings and feel them in their full effect. When you're ready, they'll slip away. By moving our full attention to the breath rather than the emotion, with an attitude of "patience and intentional acceptance", it's possible to root ourselves in the present moment.
Stone used emotional eating as an example, which is something that most of us can relate to. He used loneliness as the emotion and running to the gallon of ice cream in the freezer as the distraction and perceived solution. When the ice cream is gone, the loneliness is still there. What would have happened if, instead of going for the sugar high, you sat and paid attention to the breath? What if you allowed yourself to be lonely? What if you allowed yourself to feel the emotion in its full capacity? Nothing is forever. Not even feelings like loneliness that, sometimes, really feel like they could last forever. By using your breath to inhale the emotions, hold them close to your heart, and release them, you can bring yourself back to the present moment.
I wish I had read this passage before the snow day on Wednesday. I wish I hadn't fought off my frustration at being alone in the house all day. I wish I hadn't projected my pent-up anger at my own empty feelings onto the people I care about and who care about me. I wish I had allowed the emotions to happen, rather than push them away until they came up, enhanced, later on. I wish I had let go of self-judgment and moved away from Kleśas, the motion of suffering. Moving forward to right now, these wishes can come true through self-control and awareness.
Today, right now, this moment—they're all new. Embrace today and move to a cycle of freedom from suffering by:
- Engaging in Abhyāsa: The cultivation of new patterns in the mind and body, i.e. paying attention to my breath and letting myself feel.
- Practicing Vairagya: Letting go of habitual patterns, i.e. letting my emotions fester and judging myself for feeling a certain way
By practicing these concepts, the present moment can become the only moment.
Yesterday's class was a posture clinic. We worked on the Balancing Series (Eagle Pose, Dancer's Pose, and Tree Pose), and the Triangle Series (Warrior One, Warrior Two, Triangle Pose, and Wide Leg Forward Fold).
Starting in Downward Dog, we'll move our students up to Chair Pose and from there, take them to Eagle.
Balancing Series: "The Eagle dances around the tree."
- When your students are balancing, stand at the side or front of the room, completely still. You can also do the poses with them, as long as your presence isn't distracting. Third option: squat in the back of the room, allowing your students to completely concentrate on the pose.
- If a student is balancing, don't bother adjusting them at risk of disparity. Pull them aside at the end of class and ask what they thought of the pose. Take your feedback from there.
Following the Balancing Series is the most complex standing series and the beginning of the cool down.
- Breath will change here. Other areas of the sequence are heavy on breath-to-movement. This is more of a hold.
- When in triangle, watch out for collapsing students. Side note: I found out in class yesterday that I've been collapsing all this time. The pose is more of a core engagement rather than a stretch, which is different from the messages of Extended Side Angle.
- Make sure no one is locking their joints. It might not hurt them now, but after years of use, they'll be hurting later. Always engage some muscle.
To end on a good *note*, I started my first playlist! Check out some of my favorites from the past few weeks of practice with some songs of my own finding: