Good morning! And of course Happy Sunday!
Housekeeping: Subbing for Mindy this Monday 4/25 6pm, Vinyasa level 1/2, Equinox Columbus Circle. Please be my guest if you are not a member.
The flowers are in bloom all over NYC! It is so pretty to look at. Happy Easter, Passover, Greek Easter, Orthodox Passover, Happy non-observant Sunday, Happy Birthday, Happy engagement Party, Happy Christening and Happy All-Day-in-the-Library Day (that one is not real for most people but for me that’s what today is…)! There is all that and more going on today – drink it all in and lets celebrate Spring, I think it is finally here.
This past Friday I went to a piano recital. When I tell you I was left breathless by the extreme and extraordinary talent of the young woman playing piano, I mean I literally exhaled only when she stopped moving her fingers, which didn’t happen too often. I was so mesmerized by her dexterity, and of course her musicality, fluidity, passion, talent and performance that I dared not move one inch to uncross my legs, scratch my face or otherwise fidget lest I brake the spell she cast on me. Here is an example of the utter lack of dexterity I have in my fingers: I got a new phone that has both a touch pad and a keypad. My I-phone people are rejoicing “You finally got a touch pad!” My fingertips are not so happy. I have managed to accidentally call, text and otherwise notify more people in the past 2 weeks that I intentionally mean to contact! If you received a random call or text from me with no voice mail or no discernible content, it was my fingers and the touch pad conspiring to frustrate me and expose my unsophisticated technological skills. So sorry!
Watching the pianist the other night led me to reflect on talent, skill, passion and practice. Of course in pursuing ones passion and life dream we hope to have all of these variables in abundance to get us to the top level of our field, allowing us to at some point truly enjoy the fruits of long hours of practice and sacrifice. Other things we pursue may not be our life’s dream but they require practice just the same. One of these is yoga (you knew that was coming!). We refer to yoga as a “practice” because that is precisely what is involved when we decide to undertake the study of yoga asanas, which are the physical postures we hold in class. We refer to yoga practice when we incorporate a study of yogic philosophy, which may involve examining the intentions behind our actions, some form of meditation and mindfulness, and some reading of yogic texts in an effort to change the way we lead our lives to be more in harmony with nature, with our true selves on a spiritual level, and with whatever our conception of a higher power might be. All of this takes practice! We won’t get it right on the first try. We might not get it right on the second, third or fourth try either! We have to embrace practice as a means to knowing ourselves better, learning about our bodies and our minds, and gaining trust, patience and compassion along the way.
Picture yourself in Warrior II with the left foot facing forward, right foot back. Now picture yourself easing into extended side angle pose with the left hand moving down towards the left foot or block, and the right arm extending either towards the sky or over your right ear. Now imagine your teacher asks you to start the binding process – which involves wrapping the right hand behind the back towards the base of the tailbone, while the left arm threads underneath the left hamstring to grab the right wrist. Once the bind is completed, you are asked to bring awareness to your breath, to your hip alignment, to your shoulder alignment, to your ribcage, to your back foot, your front knee and your state of mind. Yes. Well. About that. The first time I attempted this, besides wanting look around the room and make sure I hadn’t accidentally stepped into circus class- nope, still yoga -well besides that and wanting to laugh, cry, run away, or pretend not to understand English, I just about thought I would die. Now being a dancer for many years, I know my body pretty well and can tell the difference between good and bad pain. This was not pain as in “injury” – this was pain as in “this is something I have absolutely never ever done before ever in my entire life.” I breathed into it, felt the rush of taking on a challenge, and managed to wrestle myself out of it in one piece. To see me do a bound extended side angle pose today speaks nothing of that first experience. Like night and day.
What happened? Practice. I practiced. Any chance I had to practice something I was not yet able to do with ease was something I practiced. That dedication to practice extended to headstand, handstand, shoulder stand -which I still need to practice! and meditation, which I expect to practice for the rest of my life, as it poses the deepest of challenges, quieting the mind and being at peace with what is.
Go ahead and practice something. If you need some inspiration, go to a show, see a musician perform, look at some art, read a great book or just look back through your own life at something you couldn’t do but now can do with ease and confidence (public speaking, tweeting, using MapQuest, etc).
As for me, I am enjoying All-day-in-the-library Day, as evidence of practice, patience and passion for improvement are all around me. Enjoy your practice, whatever it might be:) See you next Sunday.
“It is the truth we ourselves speak rather than the treatment we receive that heals us.” (O. Hobart Mowrer, 1966).
“Things do not change. We change.” Henry David Thoreau, Walden