There I was at kapotasana (pidgeon pose) yesterday morning nearly a week since touching heels. The New Year’s revelry in Sinai, trek back to Cairo, and travel to Barcelona–where it has taken some days to settle in both in life and in practice–had taken a toll on me. Needless to say, it was an intense five inhales and exhales.
As I sprung out of it, I felt an old emotion in my chest, a soft explosion, a subtle but potent release. I gasped aloud, grateful that I was alone self-practicing because crying came so very naturally with the breath. I felt my heart. I was surprised and relieved to feel a release from an old ache, which had been hiding so very stealthily in my body.
There you are, I thought, pulling myself together and getting on with the rest of practice–still crying, mind you.
Sometimes we can see it coming, this wave of emotion from some deep down place, moved out of its hiding place by one or a combination of unpredictable factors: real life events, an hour and a half of deep concentrated effort, strong intentions, a deep stretch or posture…
As a teacher, it’s quite a sight when you’re watching from a distance. The signs can be so clear, the flow of practice perturbed by the movements of the heart and mind. We actually look as delicate as we feel at these moments. The breath changes. The vinyasa stutters. The posture wobbles. Brows furrow. The face changes.
Other times it catches us unawares, and it feels a little bit like being an innocent bystander observing some great but secret shift happening in the mind, heart and body. And then it passes…sometimes softly, other times not so.
When it comes–and if you practice long enough and with enough consistency, these moments certainly will come–we must honor them. We must give ourselves enough space to observe this process called yoga, to learn the lessons that come, to work out what needs to get worked out. But this too needs to be balanced with a healthy amount of surrender, of letting things go and simply getting on with it, returning to the breath, returning to the steadiness of practice.
Photo: Mat laid out for my own practice this morning after the mysore class at Pazzifica Ashtanga Yoga in Barcelona. When I look at this photo I see a very special meeting place, where me and the deep down parts of me get to know each other intimately.