“And here is the most challenging part of your practice today: Let it go.” The famous last words of a Mind Body Dancer class I took recently. I had to let out a laugh because until she said those words, I didn’t realize how tense I was. We had just finished working towards a very challenging posture called Eka Pada Koundinyasana in class. I should say that I never dislike working towards a tough posture…unless it is Eka Pada Koundinyasana. Throughout class, our teacher offered us the necessary tools and instructions to work up to this posture, and yet, what became most powerful for me was this encouragement to let go of any frustration that had come up in that whole process. The suggestion made me think about all that we carry from our practice into our daily lives. Had she not proposed that compassionate response, I most likely would have taken that tension with me into my day; it would have affected the rest of my activities and interactions.
I always try to carry the benefits of my yoga practice into my daily life. Physically, I can feel the benefits of it all the time, whether in a more upright posture or better breath support when I am onstage. Perhaps we could benefit even more by trying to bring more of the mental and energetic aspects of our practice into our days. Yoga asana facilitate our physical strength, but what about our mental strength? Following our Eka Pada Koundinyasana explorations, our teacher also had offered: “Focus on what worked for you. Harping on what went wrong or what didn’t go your way will not benefit you. Noticing what did work, however, will.” Focusing on the good rather than the bad, viewing yourself positively and recognizing the benefits in what you’ve done on any given day takes a great amount of mental strength. I think she was correct in believing the most challenging part of our practice that day would be letting go.
It was this same teacher that, more than a year ago, suggested I try the Mind Body Dancer teacher training. I was shocked when she made this suggestion to me. How could she think that I was teaching material? I didn’t seem like a yoga instructor, did I? Despite these reservations, I went forth with the training because I loved the practice and wanted to be able to teach it to others. For awhile when I first began training, I felt disorganized in a way, as if my everyday self didn’t meld with the part of me trying to become a teacher. I constantly dreamt of what I should be, as though there was some sort of prerequisite to being a teacher. Over time, and with the help of my fellow trainees, I discovered that there is no yoga teacher stereotype. There is no one way that I should be; there is just me, with my compassion and training tools that will support me as I teach. Habitually thinking something should be a certain way can take away from our personal experiences. If we focus on making a posture look a certain way, for instance, we miss out on the beauty of the details that put the posture together, that make the posture work on our own bodies. Acting works similarly – to craft an authentic character in performance, I can’t think of what the audience is going to see but must respond to my fellow actors in the moment, delving into every detail along the way.
Maybe that attention to detail is a part of the practice that really can benefit us – reveling in our experiences, every bit of them. Instead of hanging on to what we didn’t accomplish or what we could have done better, we can notice what did work and consider how we can continue in that fashion. Leave nothing unseen or untouched. Let it all in to affect you. And then let it go and move along.
- Molly Way