The Power of Place
Allow me to tell you about my home practice space — not because I think it is an ideal model of peace and perfection, but precisely because it is not. When I am not teaching or practicing at the beautiful blue sanctuary, my mat unfolds between my dresser, my desk, a coat rack, and sometimes a laundry basket, piles of books, or my husband’s work boots. Is this sounding like a yoga oasis yet? I thought not…
But once I unfold my mat, usually after first sweeping up the latest deluge of dog hair, something wonderful happens. Not right away, but slowly, with a few deep breaths and maybe a closing of the eyes.
My cluttered, cramped, and multi-purpose room is transformed into a space that holds infinite possibility for relaxation, renewal, and all the other joys of yoga.
A thirteen-year relationship with my yoga practice has revealed at least one truth: no matter where or when I unroll the mat and begin to move and breathe, I am coming to a place that is familiar and a lot like home. In this place, offered by the mat but also from within, I can recognize that part of myself that does not change no matter what the external craziness looks like. I can connect to purusha, the authentic self, who fortunately does not mind the pile of clothes and books.
Svadhyaya (self-study) is around every corner
by Jill Sockman
During a heated conversation this weekend, I was informed that I am uptight. What?!? Me?!?! UPTIGHT?!?!? (DO YOU WANNA SEE UPTIGHT?!?!?!?) After about forty minutes of mental yogic breathing techniques, I was able to return(-ish) to the conversation as a human being rather than a rabid Grizzly. But later on, it did get me to thinking…
My life is built around a somewhat inflexible set schedule. Not only the classes, workshops, meetings and trainings that comprise my workweek (which is a 7-day endeavor), but my own routine of getting up early, doing my practice, walking the boo, drinking my tea… It’s a rhythm that, when well in place, is very healthy and helps keep me in balance. So the question I came to was, when does balance become boring?
I’ve heard that our greatest assets are often our greatest liabilities. Or said another way, our greatest strength is also our greatest weakness. I’m super organized, reliable, productive, responsible, capable, etc. That’s the upside, I think. But the potential downside is (apparently) the tendency to be controlling, to lack spontaneity, to be, in a word, uptight.
As much as I wanted to stuff this nugget into the nearest bin, preferably on fire, I am trying to use this tidbit as an opportunity for a little svadhyaya (self-study). What are the times, where are the places, when do I have the opportunity to flex my flexibility muscles? Can I simply lighten up a little? What would that look like and how would it feel?
When you hear something about yourself that you don’t like, do you go on the defensive? Make excuses? Lay the blame elsewhere? Even in the most heated of arguments, there are often elements of truth that come out. Can you find the yoga even there (or if not there, a little later in the privacy of your own mind) to see where you have some work, some baggage, some potential to grow?