Life is about relationships … or to me, it is.
I recently traveled to practice yoga with a teacher that I love. The trip was about more than yoga. It was a break from my stressful job, demanding family and the chill of winter. In other words – perfect.
As I gingerly sat on the floor to relax in a forward fold and take inventory of my pain I saw the look of concern on my teacher’s face. He immediately came over asking if I was alright. I gave him a rundown of the problem and while assisting me in the forward fold he said to not to let the fear and worry overtake me.
Easier said than done. After practice I put on a brave and happy face, but inside I was devastated. Still I went back to my hotel got some rest and came back the next day.
What happened over the next week was nothing short of amazing. Instead of shying away from me and letting me stay in a safety zone which is what I expected (because, let’s face it who wants to come near a student that’s injured) I was nudged then eventually persuaded into exploring not only the edges of my pain but the imbalances of my physical practice that caused it. In a way, it was like starting over. In those days I began to get from my practice a deeper significance and meaning than I ever had before. If I were home I would probably taken a few weeks off until I felt better.
Practicing in pain with the fear of serious injury is a frightening and vulnerable place to be, yet over the week we worked together to continually find my edge and each day it got further away.
The ability to explore my limits in safety with such a skilled and compassionate teacher allowed me to let down my guard. “You have to keep talking to me. Tell me how you feel” – this is NOT something I do. I am generally the one in the corner, head down, not waiting for help, not asking questions. But I had to. I had to share my feelings and show my weakness. I also had to make changes. Things were clearly not working.
Change is hard and sometimes it takes a good deal of pain before we’re willing to admit that it’s necessary. And though, I’ve read and discussed the importance of the relationship between student and teacher before – I’d never really understood what it meant until now.
Yoga is such a natural metaphor for life. A chronic injury in yoga so similar to the pain we carry around from past relationships. Perhaps our first love left us at the altar or our parents were nonexistent. These scars continue to haunt us and never really go away until we meet someone who says, “I’m here. I want to help you and I’m not going anywhere until you let me. It’s ok. Really you’re safe with me.”
When we are lucky enough to meet that person and smart enough to trust them we just might be able to break through the scar tissue, change the patterns and start over pain free.
Sandy attended her first yoga class for the same reason as many others. She was injured. Friends told her that yoga would help her body stay balanced and ward off further running injuries. Sandy eventually found her way into an Ashtanga class and never looked back. The rhythmic beauty of connecting breath and movement helped bring the same calm and concentration she found in running and the former gymnast felt right at home moving through the dynamic series. That one Ashtanga class became a daily mysore practice. She was drawn to the quiet early morning Mysore classes as a respite from her hectic work days. Sandy maintains a daily mysore practice in DC.
Below, hear David Garrigues talks about how moving forward into third series often requires students to go often go back and correct the fundamentals they were not before willing to correct before.
And as Sandy reminds us – sometimes it’s that snap that calls our attention or as David says, just the inability to move forward. Either way, it’s nice to have a teacher, whose skill and compassion, make it safe for us to explore and correct.