I am sensing the slow glide of the medial border of my shoulder blade toward my spine. It moves easily, then less easily, then arrives at the place where I know intuitively it should not go further. And that’s where I have to breathe and get a feel for where I am, from the inside. Because to look at me from the outside, what I’m doing doesn’t look like anything. Not a pose. Not an accomplishment. A barely-visible movement. But I know it’s there. I am on the periphery of a pose, revolved triangle. It looks like I am fighting with a folding chair and a block. It’s a deep experience of a partial form.
This is what yoga practice looks like for me sometimes: a detailed investigation where things don’t get finished. It is tracking a line of inquiry, and realizing that within that inquiry there are a hundred smaller questions that feed the bigger understanding of things. It’s worth it to me to tend to those questions: what does the pelvis do, where is the breath, what do the feet feel like and what does that mean for the skull. Details in relationship.
It’s a whole lot like my life. Running a studio, being a mama, being in partnership with my husband, being an introvert in a job where I have to speak publicly every day, being a restless person in a practice where I’m asked to slow down. I’m just constantly picking up threads, examining them, weaving them partially into place and then laying them back down when something else demands attention. It’s a whole, unfinished life. It pulls me at my edges sometimes, and it squashes me up. But it also invites me to remember that this is what living is for. This shape-changing, this self-investigation, this being in relationship to the world.
It is useful to remember: a pose is never finished, exactly. Breath is input. Learning is change. Sometimes I am just trying to stay awake.
The best yoga teachers I’ve ever had have taught me to look through this lens. Like seeing the oak tree in the acorn, they know a whole experience lies dormant in the small and subtle flexions, extensions, rotations, spirals, contractions and releases of the body. They whisper it out. There is never a “perfect.” There is always a “perfect.” There is never a day when they say, “that’s it, you’ve achieved it. You don’t need to practice any more.” Thank god.
I used to look at books full of poses, turning the pages and thinking “one day. One day.” I still do it, sometimes. Rarely though. Mostly I’m thinking, “today. What’s available. What can I learn.” Waves of progress build to a point and then they recede. Mostly I live in between the waves, like we all do.
See you out there.
Much love and thanks for reading,
Erin H/Grassroots Yoga