Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Stability and Vulnerability

Hello Dear Yogis,

In our Wednesday and Thursday classes this week, we'll be doing some inquiry around the relationship between stability and vulnerability, and exploring the dance of risk-taking and finding our ground. We engage in this play of opposites on the mat in our asana practice, as we move from poses where we feel stable, safe and strong (such as mountain, warrior 1, low lunge) to poses where we take some risk, intentionally choosing instability and vulnerability (balancing poses, deep backbends, and inversions such as tree, camel, and headstand). Risk is a necessary part of growth, both in yoga practice and in life.

Think about it-- you would have never learned to walk if you hadn't been willing to fall down again and again, and again! When you were one year old, you just kept picking yourself up and trying again. You never said "what's wrong with me--I can't get this right, I'm such a bad walker" nor did you compare yourself with other toddlers who were already walking. You just got up and took the next step, embracing the moment-to-moment adventure of learning to walk.

Reclaiming that spirit of adventure and the childlike willingness to fall on our butts is something we can cultivate in our grown-up endeavors. Taking risks, whether they be in business, in love, or in sport, is part of being fully alive. And knowing when to come back to center, to pull inward and ground ourselves, is an equally important life skill.

Asana practice allows us to play, in a safe and supportive setting, with moving back and forth between  groundedness and vulnerability. We start with familiar postures that feel good, where we can feel our power and strength, and then we stretch ourselves--literally and figuratively--into something that feels a little scary, unknown, or beyond our reach.

Sometimes in life we choose vulnerablity consciously, and other times s%&t happens, and we find ourselves blown open. Yoga practices such as asana, pranayama, and meditation are tools we can use to help us come back to center during those challenging times.

Being vulnerable means being open-- to change, to grief, to loss, to joy and love, to whatever shows up,  and knowing that, in the midst of all of it, there is a still, peaceful center that always welcomes us home.

I'd like to share the prayer that I read in class this morning, by poet Danna Faulds, from her book Limitless:

I pray to stay open today. Open to the unrestrained energy of now. Open to mystery and power. Open to whatever comes. Open to routine and surprises. Open to moving past my first reactions. Open to my imperfections and the divine spark that underlies them. Open to wonder and the everyday grace of life unfolding as it does. Open to events and circumstances that I like, and those I don't. Open to fatigue and overflowing energy. Open to listen and to speak. Open to love in all the ways it manifests. Open to give and to receive. Open to seasons changing, priorities rearranging, nothing staying the same for very long. Open to letting beliefs dissolve into the ether. Open to the direct experience of truth. Open to forgetting and remembering. Open to life and open to death. Open to seeing old patterns and letting them go. Open to fear and courage, ease and difficulty. I pray to stay open.

Together, may we be open and willing to share this yoga of life.

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