Sunday, December 28, 2014

A time for NEW beginnings and New beginners.

  January is upon us, and many people are making new resolutions to come back to their practice or to start a brand new one. I like to reflect on this opportunity for new beginnings. Its so beautiful to see all the new people coming to their mats, its so exciting as you see they are getting ready for a brand new adventure that's going to lead them to some new explorations of Self.
  I was reminded of what it was like to be a new person in class when I picked up an old classic yoga book that I suddenly felt compelled to read, called Bringing Yoga to Life by Donna Farhi. In my training, it was the first book that really grabbed me and said "Welcome" to your yoga practice. Within the first couple pages of this book, I was quickly reminded of what the practice is like for the New beginner. I mean really felt like, things that teachers and long time students may have forgotten.

Do you remember your first class? It wasnt always coming to your mat and finding tranquility, peace, and relaxation. Do you remember when everything was confusing  from which foot/arm you needed to use, to the name of the poses, to which order they went in, and the language that was used in class?

  You had no idea which foot was your left/right? There was a time when we didn't even know how to breathe properly, and everything was so overwhelming. Do you remember when your teacher mentioned the poses and you thought, what an odd name for that pose, or when they used Sanskrit, and you thought, "oh no, I'm never going to get this, I don't even understand what they are saying!" Do you remember that first Warrior pose you did and you thought to yourself, "seriously, how long are you going to keep me here? My legs are killing me!" How about that first Downward facing Dog, "are you kidding me?? this is not a resting pose!!"

  Do you remember all the emotions that came up in your practice? "How did I let myself get so out of shape?" or those times when you couldnt focus on anything! let alone how many times we did that pose, to what inhalation/exhalation to what pose? There is nothing romantic or pleasant about our practice when we first start or come back after a long break. Those moments when our bodies are screaming unpleasantries, and our minds are going a hundred miles per hour, and we cant focus on anything the teacher is saying, because we keep looking at the clock wondering when all of this is going to be over.

  But the reward of this practice is not the starting, its the practice, the continuation of coming back to our mat over and over. Because one day you are going to leave your mat, and go, "oh that felt amazing!" and you are going to walk away with this ah ha moment of "Hey! Something changed" and that something is going to be you! You will suddenly realize, that you have the breath down, you can find comfort in your Downward facing dog and it IS a resting pose, and you realize that all that movement you just did, came with out having to think about the alignment of each and every pose, because your body remembers. Of course, if you are coming to my classes you realize that some of those moments will be short lived, as you get that one pose you have never heard of, or I change up everything you ever knew. But there is something amazing about what it feels like to be humble, to experience something new, or to feel like a beginner again. Because if you've been practicing yoga, and I mean really practicing some sense of that new is always there.

  What is my point in all of this? Well, as all those new brave souls are making their place in class. Welcome them with compassion, because you remember what it was like in your FIRST YOGA class. Offer heartfelt encouragement while you are practicing, because we all live in a world that needs a little more encouragement and a lot less judgement. Maybe share a story of your first practice, as you leave class, and let them know that you were once a beginner too. This is a time of embracing those moments of new and beautiful things, so take a deep breath and remember that those hard to find parking spots and longer lines are a time to get just a little bit more excercise, and to really put into play those moments on your mat, when your teacher said "there will come a time when these hard poses will teach us patience and we will need that patience off our mat as well as on it." So give yourself a little bit more time to get to class, and welcome those new faces, as you welcome in the New year!


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