Flow, don’t force

#7 of 12 Days of New Year’s Resolutions: Flow, don’t force.
This morning I practiced the Ashtanga primary series. As I think I’ve mentioned before, I don’t fall into the hardcore Ashtangi category, but it is the cornerstone of my practice and what I believe to be the foundation for strength, flexibility and discipline. It’s like hitting my yoga reset button. And I love the translation for yoga chikitsa, which is the primary series – yoga therapy. A good solid primary practice is definitely therapy. And did I ever need that today.

This practice does attract people who like to push, and is often blamed for yoga injuries. It also scares a lot of people. Both of those are topics for another time. (Maybe.) I’m not going to lie to you, it’s challenging, but also immensely rewarding. And you have to learn how not to push, and how to accept where you are with your practice and your body, both of which are always – always! – changing. So basically, whether you like it or not, Ashtanga is going to be a moving target.

But back to my practice today – it was one of those magical times when everything felt effortless and smooth. My body felt strong and supple, my head calm and clear. Why can’t it always be like this?! In yoga, even if we only get a little taste of what that feeling is like, it’s what keeps us coming back for more. My body and mind were making new connections, in poses I’ve done hundreds of times. Wow. I felt like I was walking on air after rolling up my mat. And a voice inside my head said: Flow, don’t force. (Sort of like Obi-Wan Kenobi’s voice saying to Luke Skywalker, Feel the Force, Luke. For you Star Wars aficionados.) What a mantra to live by, both on and off the mat. Namaste.