Unlike many hobbies, exercises, or activities, yoga can be (and should be) practiced anywhere. Other than a mat, which is helpful but not necessary, yogis need nothing but an open heart and willing body to take their practice “Off the Mat“.
This past weekend my practice found me on the lake in Wisconsin. On Friday I rolled out my mat on the wooden deck, facing the beach and blue sky overhead, and tuned my new playlist into the outdoor speakers. Perhaps influenced by the Summer season, or else a need to detox from a hectic work week, I began a slow twisting flow to rid my mind and body of accumulated tension and attachments. At first I found myself clinging to anticipation. I spent more energy trying to develop a “creative sequence” and less energy actually enjoying the movements themselves. But it didn’t take long before the gentle rhythm of lapping waves calmed my frantic mind. IT allowed my body to drive its own series of twists and folds. It wasn’t until that point that I could truly drink the benefits of the practice. With each inhalation I felt my spine stretching long, my lungs filling with the clean dn refreshing lake air. Each exhale acted like a moment of complete emptiness, a moment of suspension before filling up again with the breath. Tension and stress began to drain from my body, and all that was left was a quiet stillness.
Out of that tranquility was born a desire to endure; to defy my preoccupations. My preoccupation of the week had been that it would take months and months to learn a graceful transition to standing revolved bird of paradise. What I discovered was that a gentle and calm approach allowed me the time to create a stong bind, allowed me the self-awareness to twist from my base, and allowed me the strength to be light. That’s what I had been missing all along, both on and off my mat. I foolishly thought that an aggressive tenacity and fierceness in my practice would get me further. Oh how wrong I was.
From here on out I will try to approach all twists, whether of body, life, or mind, with this same buoyant curiosity. I will strive to rid myself of static critique, and instead approach the world with a lightness and gentleness.