What’s new?

I’ve been struggling to produce a unique response to the yoga studio’s prompt for the teacher spotlight for Spring. The prompt, “What’s new in your practice?” seems like a simple question. So, why am I three weeks late on coming up with a response?

The simple answer is nothing. I have not been given any new poses for over 6 months. I have been showing up for class faithfully since the beginning of the pandemic — even when I knew that being on camera would mean that my broken heart would be seen by all. The practice has it’s way of revealing the raw parts on us, whether we like it or not.

But, it’s not that simple. As the anniversary of my husband’s passing, Spring spotlights the deepest, saddest parts of me. I don’t go looking for these feelings, they bubble up regardless of attention. Trying to distract myself from it is like ignoring an injury (such as a broken toe) while practicing yoga; the pain makes you take notice.

Instead of going about my every day activities, I’ve made point of giving myself the space to feel what ever comes up during this time. In past years, my answers to the Spring teacher prompts were bathed in a melancholy of sorts. I didn’t want to repeat that this time. Instead, I asked for more time.

Additionally, I took time off from work and asked another teacher to sub for me on the anniversary day so that I could have my yoga practice at the usual morning time.

Interestingly, my asking for more time, as well as getting coverage for my class, is exactly the thing that is new for me.

I’ve spent my life giving to others — sometimes at my own expense. Lately, however, it’s taking a toll on me. My body is unhappy and my mind frazzled trying to be in two places at once and please everyone — all with the expression on my face on display for all to see. As the pandemic wears on, I have come to realize that I just can’t do it all.

On my mat, I pull my attention back to myself, the prescribed dristhi, and the sound of my own breath (instead of the computer). I have also been more conscious of conserving my energy when it is low. After all, this is the practice as it was meant to be done.

Yet, during the past couple of years, I have found myself grasping to contribute and hold space for a community-feel amidst the pandemic-driven online environment. While this sounds like a good thing, it has it’s drawbacks for both me as well as for the members of my yoga community. It’s time to zip my lips and continue to contribute simply by showing up for practice. And if we want to chat it up, well perhaps there will be time for that too (outside of practice, that is).

I realized that this response, all by itself (separate from the background of my loss and heartbreak), might sound resentful or negative in nature. It is not meant that way at all. Because of this, I wrote a different response to the prompt “What’s new in your practice?” for the studio.

Here is what I wrote:

After a 10+ year hiatus from distance running, I am training to run a half marathon. Added to my Ashtanga Yoga Third Series practice (which is still rather new to me), my time on the mat is rather unpredictable. The tightness from the running coupled with the newer poses in my practice requires more discernment, focus…and sometimes an additive or two. While the required discernment is not at all a bad thing, the traditional approach to Ashtanga Yoga asks practitioners to move in the most direct manner: no additives or preservatives.
When I first began my yoga journey, I tapped into my marathon training regimen to form the discipline of showing up no matter what. Now, I return to running to find that my years of daily yoga practice help me in my running journey.
Much like my yoga practice, I find that each training day shows up a little different from the last: sometimes good, other times not so good. The same breath, focus, and discipline used in my yoga practice work here too. It’s the same yet different.

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