Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Student Mind

I can't say that going through school was the biggest thrill of my life. I'm sure I appreciated it.  I'm sure I liked seeing my friends and playing basketball and running track and field after class. But when thinking back, almost all of my memories in the classroom are sour ones - filled with boredom. I couldn't wait to leave. 

I remember not being able to sleep one night and looking out my bedroom window at the stars and saying almost out loud, "I can't wait to discover all of you."

I can't believe all of the things I don't know. In fact, sometimes it's so overwhelming - all of these things I want to learn - that I just stop and take a nap. Or get on my yoga mat. Or meditate. Or eat chocolate. Yea, I probably eat chocolate mostly.

I had a lot of things to do tonight. Healthcare papers to look over, music venues to book, a new piano song to play, but my body told me to stop. So I listened. That's the beauty of a yoga practice. You start to listen to cues your body and mind give you. So my body said stop. You're tired. But when I laid down my mind said: You're hungry. Hungry for knowledge. Read. Discover

For one, I love learning about yoga. I love the history. I love translating sanskrit words into postures on my mat. If open and willing ears and bodies are in reach, I love sharing what I know.  I continue to go to class weekly because I continue to be amazed at my body's progress - "I didn't know my leg could do that! I thought only dogs could do that!" Yes. I literally said this in class.  Out loud this time. 

“In many ways, I still maintain the mind of a student, which helps me in my quest to help others,” said an owner of a NY City studio who attends retreats and workshops continually while she teaches and who left a lucrative career to follow her passion for yoga. 

I think I've always maintained that student mind. There was just something about 4 walls and a chalk board that really turned me off.  When I left school I loved discovering people and new places and asking questions. I heard conversations differently.  I discovered things they never would have told you in school - maybe weren't allowed to tell you.  However the more I discover, the more I realize how much I don't know...which reminds me of a gorgeous Joni Mitchell song, "Both sides Now."  Go have a listen. I am still realizing though, more and more each day, that I can do and be and discover anything in this world. The quest, the journey is the fun part.  Sometimes I don't even know what my goal is because I allow my learning to take me places I've never dreamed of.

Today I was feeling friendly - and, well, needy - so I went to my local health food store to ask for advice. I had seen this woman there before and love seeing her contagious smile and hearing her wealth of knowledge as I eavesdrop on other customers' conversations. When ringing me up with my new products, I said, "I knew you'd have all the answers."  She replied, humbly, "Oh I don't know all the answers.  I'm still learning every day."

The world is my school and my playground. I just like making up my own rules. Namaste. 

Marseille, France

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Transition Time

"Your left ankle is directly under your left knee.  Your back toes are pushing into the earth and simultaneously pulling organic energy up through your foot, into your back ankle, up your leg and buttocks and into your core. Your right hip comes forward and your legs isometrically pull towards each other. Your back thigh lifts.  Smile.  Feel the beauty - feel the light. Now - JUMP SWITCH!"

Transitions are inevitable and you can choose to welcome them or drown in them.  As one of my amazing teachers says, "You can be a pedestrian throughout this life or you can live life to the fullest."  Transitions can be tough, because they mean change. Transition from summer to winter.  Transition to a new location. Transition with relationships. But they also welcome new opportunities.  An opportunity to clear your mind - to build something new - to set goals for yourself - to become a stronger person.

A self-taught yogi I know who is perfectly content "stretching" on his own asked, "Why spend money at a yoga class when I can just do what I know right here in my living room?" Good point. I do love getting in a good stretching session with the kitchen within reach but I tend to skip out on things. I tend to have more of a "monkey mind"at home. I don't have the opportunity of hearing the waves of breath around me.  I don't challenge my core strength enough. I don't have the benefits of partner yoga.  I even tend to skip savasana (the best part!).  I love my home practice. But I challenge myself to transition from my my mat in my room, get in the car, and learn something from a more experienced teacher with other yogis all around me.

I've realized in my years of transitions from one yoga class to another that it's not just about stretching. It's about meditating. It's about growing. It's about becoming more and more aware of what the body and mind are capable of.

My teacher also inspired me to transition to fall-colored nails. I love change!
The first time I heard "jump switch" I looked around and saw classmates perform a scissor-kick that seemed impossible with burning thighs.  But on the next command, I let my thighs burn a little more and let the energy soar through me and my back leg became my front leg....and the corners of my lips turned up into a smile.

Om namah