Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Art of Letting Go

This winter I have been taking a Pilate's class two times a week. Each session is a full 60 minutes long with a level of intensity I would place in the bulldog hard category! It is punishing and about 15 minutes too long in my estimation. This is not to say that it hasn't been without benefit. My arms and core muscles (although still nicely insulated by a soft squishy layer) have tightened and firmed. I've also met some nice people and gained some confidence by getting back on the bicycle, so to speak.

For several years now I have been taking yoga classes. I love Yoga. Of all the forms of exercise, Yoga and walking are my front runners. Pilate's and Yoga share may common elements and movements yet are two distinct disciplines. Very distinct, as I have recently learned.

Most nights after returning home from Pilate's, I felt empty, tired and sore. I did not look forward to actually going to the classes but did always feel good for at least the two days following the workout. I even gave some consideration to signing up for the spring sessions, but have since reconsidered.

Part of my reasoning for not rejoining at this time is that I have met a wonderful and caring Yoga teacher. Christine and I have kindred spirits and she approaches the practice with an intention and awareness I have not previously experienced with any other teacher.

I do believe that the beauty of Yoga exists in the deep connection that is made between the mind, the body and a collective spirit. The breath leads us on this journey, opening and extending our known boundaries of the three. It is a case of 'more than the sum of the parts'. Yoga, especially when lead by a teacher seeking the truth of who they are, goes far beyond physical exercise, so much so that the physicality is no longer even the point.

No doubt about it, Pilate's pushed my body to its physical limit. But something about it made me feel as though I had been robbed, that I wasn't good enough and that next time I should try harder. In Yoga, my breath is my focus, my mind is at ease and so is my body. I have experienced and maintained difficult poses and vinyasa by finding the beauty of the movement through the beauty of deep and soulful inhale and exhale. Also, I have found contentment and acceptance in not pushing my boundary (even backing off !) and allowing the pose to find its own rhythm. Generally, when I stop tyring so hard and rather focus my intent on releasing any tension and ego surrounding the movement, this release takes me far beyond the trying and into a deeper connect. I marvel at this over and over again.

I have found that this principle can be applied to daily living. My life takes on an ease when I thoughtfully practice the art of letting go. When I imagine myself soft and pliable I seem to glide through without getting caught up on so many small things. I also find that because I have purposefully given my physical and emotional self permission to accept things I cannot change, the things that I can change become much more meaningful and personal.

My desire for all of us, is that we can find our own space to practice and let go.


Take my yoke on you and become like me, for I am gentle and without pride, and you will have rest for your souls; For my yoke is good, and the weight I take up is not hard.
~Matthew 11:29,30~

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