Thursday, March 7, 2013

Taking the practice off the mat...

On Monday, one of our instructors told the class: "The posture begins when you want to get out." Well, today we put this notion into action "off the mat" because that is where the real yoga is, as the teachings of yoga are tools for living.

Plan B brought us back to the Sacred Waters Yoga Studio in Meredith as the weather prohibited us from going to Boston and the Henry-Benson Institute at Mass. General. Today we participated in a "public" class with people from outside of our project group. All classes up to this point were privately arranged. Today's class was a 90 minute slow flow Hatha style. There were lots of long holds and plenty of quads being challenged.

After our physical practice, the students once again journaled about their experience and impressions. In our conversation after the reflection there was, for the first time this week, some tension and conflict over the proposed ideas of what we would do next. Some turned away in disapointment, some channeled this energy through wispers with their friends, and some immediately became compliant even though it wasn't really what they wanted to do... not being honest about how they felt... even though their opinion was being asked for. This was an opportunity to put our "practice" into action. So instead of ignoring the conflict, we began to dialogue, opening up a conversation instead of burring our emotions. We stayed present with the tension, even though it would have been "easier" in the moment to ignore it. Isn't that what so many of us do, just ignore it and think we are letting go until it pops back up when we least expect it with a resentment or an upset stomach or a head ache that just won't go away?

We choose to do things differently today and talk about what was going on instead of shutting down. As a result, it brought the group closer together and we moved forward with the day in harmony, finding compromise with what we needed to be accomplish and adding some of what we wanted to do.

Back on campus, after lunch, we did Karma Yoga sending anonymous thank you notes to people both on and off campus. An idea came from one of the group members to send inspirational messages out to members of our community encouraging them on their paths. The students embraced this idea of "sharing the love" and attempting to brighten someone else's day. Sometimes the best stress management tool is learning to forget about yourself and try to lift someone else's spirits.

Some of the thoughts that have come through the students reflecions this week:

"Release when there is tension. There is no point in adding more tension."

"Find a place of comfort in someting challenging."

"I felt a deep stretch in both my legs and my mind."

"Yoga has helped me balance the stimulation outside my body and inside my body."

"Yoga teaches you to be more balanced and focused in everyday life."

"By finding common ground between letting go but also challenging yourself on and off the mat, you truly begin to feel the benefits of yoga."

"This week has taught me to see things in a different and healthier ways."


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