We are always on the cusp of change. There is never an 'arrival' that leaves us in a permanent stasis of 'ending up.' For me, this truth provides deep relief.
Yoga doesn't cure the human condition of suffering, but it can help us understand it.
I spent the last week on vacation with family, and in a moment where I must have needed some grounding, my mother, who also happens to be my first teacher, corrected me by saying, "That's not why you practice yoga, Peach. You practice to find space. You practice to expand. Don't forget that."
Oops. I had forgotten. I think I had forgotten from looking at Instagram and wondering why my body didn't contort like some other bodies.
By the way: she didn't mean the general "you," but specifically me, her daughter. I momentarily lost my way, and she knew that. Her point was, in fact, that what we all seek is different.
Later my mother explained more. She told me, "Everyone seeks expansion in different ways. For some, it's building career success and making money. For others, it's through making shapes with their bodies and seeing how far they can take that. But it's the same experience. We all want to expand."
And finally she looked me in the eye and said, only as a loving truth-teller can say, "You're like a skittish race horse, Peach. You could bolt at any second."
This brought me to tears.
I am not the only one who feels pressure to be a certain way. I know you feel it too. And the pressure I sometimes feel to be there for, or perform for, other people, can surmount to the point of feeling like I want to run. I have run before. I still feel the urge.
And I can understand this urge to bolt from the perspective of Ayurveda, the sister-science and medicine of yoga, and call it an excess of vata. I can also scrape the labels and names away and know that, beneath my urge to bolt, beneath the rapidly moving and rising bubbles of vata is a deep, surging desire to expand in the ways that only I can.
Do you relate?
Standing in our vacation home together this past week, my brother (and great role model) asked me, "Why DO you love yoga so much, Peach?" And I could only answer truthfully, that my daily practice is my daily respite from what otherwise may be crushing anxiety.
Does that sound dramatic? It isn't only me. My friend, mentor, and respected teacher Livia Cohen-Shapiro has hazarded the estimation that many of us are living in a constant state of shock. I might add that, over that state of shock can build a gross denial that halts so many people from even seeking truth, growth, or expansion.
Yoga is, at least, an anxiety-management practice for me, and at best a glorious access pass into a part of myself I need connection to in order to feel fulfilled. It's rarely pretty, or graceful, or Instagram-worthy. But it's the way I know to go in. And going in is such a relief from all the out.
Yes, daily asana does a lot for me.
I realize there is luxury in having the time to spend an hour or so practicing asana each day. And yet the time feels well spent: my asana practice is my expansion-seeking practice. It's my time to sense body-in-space without comparison. It's my daily invitation, no, requirement, to attend to the deeper version of myself.
Without that, I really am lost.
With great admiration for how you choose to seek expansion,