On the Wisdom of Practice


At yoga class yesterday, I was reminded (all over again) of how far I still have to go—and how much I’ve misunderstood (and continue to misunderstand) this gentle and joyous practice.

~~~~~

Little Grasshopper Lesson No. 1: Listen to your pain.

Editha: (Serene.) “Arrange your legs in Baddha Konasana position, then lie down and stay there for fifteen minutes. Your only task will be to listen to the tension in your body. Tell me afterwards what you hear.”

(Fifteen minutes later.)

Editha: (Still serene.) “So, what did you hear?”

Eileen: (Puzzled.) “Um, I kept waiting for the pain in my legs to come, but it never did. What actually hurt, strangely enough, was my left arm and my left shoulder blade.”

Editha: (Smiling.) “Exactly. Because you’re in Baddha Konasana, your mind assumes that the pain will come from your legs. It’s the logical inference. But if you actually listen to your body, the pain comes from somewhere else.”

Eileen: (Frowning.) “It’s my shoulder that hurts. I’m doing something wrong in my downward dog, aren’t I?”

Editha:  (Grinning.) “Exactly. And you would have realized that much earlier if you’d listened to your body instead of your mind.”

Eileen: Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!

Editha: (Cheerful.) Now let me show you what you’ve been doing wrong . . .

~~~~~

Little Grasshopper Lesson No. 2: Let your spirit dance.

Abbey: “I shouldn’t be bending my knees in Prasarita Padottanasana right? It’s not the ideal!”

Editha: “Ideals, ideals! Never mind ideals! Yoga is about letting your spirit dance. If you’re not letting your spirit dance, how can you practice yoga every day? Why would you even want to practice yoga every day?

~~~~~

Little Grasshopper Lesson No. 3: Allow yourself to fall.

Art: “I need to do my headstand against the wall, because sometimes I feel like I’m about to fall.”

Editha: “Then allow yourself to fall.”

(Pause.)

Art: “And . . .?”

Editha: “And nothing. You have to get comfortable with falling.”

~~~~~

Final score: Editha—3; Little grasshoppers—0.

Gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.

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