I’m having a bit of a downer day. Cramps will do that to a gal. Unfortunately, life doesn’t stop for cramps, so I got up this morning, had some breakfast, skipped the 25 minute workout I was going to do and went in to teach my yoga class.
When my body isn’t feeling all that good, my mind doesn’t operate as well. That’s a fact. And yet, that’s where I tend to go. I start thinking really hard so that I can feel a little less. I sat down to review notes and plan today’s class and I went all intellectual on myself, delving into the brain and pulling out of the body. I started thinking about yoga philosophy and the Sanskrit terms for things and I pulled hundreds of yoga books off the shelf just to swim around in them, reading a little bit of DesikacharKraftsowBiharSchoolAtlasofAnatomy all at the same time. This word-think-talk-mind thing is a samskara that I’ve been known indulge. My mind really likes it. But without the body and a tuning in to the feeling-sense, the stuff I came up with today was dry and over-intellectual (that may be a too generous) and for students, it leads to the condition known as “Eyes Glazed Over”.
I started class with 12 people out there, ready to practice and move…like we usually do. If I had been paying attention to my feeling-sense, I could have picked up on that and kept my intro short. Generally, I offer ONE thing to consider as we move. One. Instead, with my mind all pumped up and running on its own agenda, I launched into a five-minute talk about Kriya Yoga, the yoga of action. “Yoga offers us a way to make changes in our lives that lessen suffering and there are three aspects to a transformational practice: Tapas, purifying heat, Svadhyaya, self-reflection and awareness, and Ishvarapranidhana, surrender to and recognition that there are things beyond our control, and we can choose to stay open and humble in the face of such things. “ Only it took me much longer to say it than it took you to read it.
At this point, I can see that students’ eyes are glazing over. It doesn’t stop me. It does make me a little less sure about this path I’m on. My body is not in agreement with my mind’s agenda, so my voice leans toward mousey and my eyes try to break eye contact with my students, but my words get more waaaay more preachy. Not a good combo. I keep on talking. This leads to even more severe eyes-glazing-over and a battle between body’s feeling-sense and MIND: “Yoga is a practice that can help us RISE ABOVE the suffering that is present in our lives. We need to develop these three aspects of our yoga practice IN BALANCE to MOVE BEYOND the suffering.” It goes on until finally, I have. To. Stop. In under 6 minutes, the eyeballs of my students looked like cloudy dead-fish-eyes and my mind knew its time on center stage was drawing to a close. In a desperate attempt to assert its importance my mind and mouth blurted out, “This is really important stuff so we are going to talk about this for the next month.” (shit. I wonder if anyone is going to show up over the next month…)
My mind really likes to think it is in charge but when I stay connected and integrated in mind, body and spirit I’m more tuned in. Yoga is about this very “yoking” of these aspects of our experience so that together we can use all of our awareness and facilities to be present to what is going on. My mind loves the chance to elbow its way to the front of the line, but when I take a breath, tune into my whole self, the mind gets a hip-check and bumps back in place with the equally important body and spirit. When I can teach from this place, from a yogic place, the classes, the blog-posts, the time with my kids and my friends, my time in meditation is all so much more interesting and fulfilling and fun. So here’s to fewer dead fish eyes. Here’s to getting out of my head and into my body. Here’s to yoga. yeah.