Patañjali's initial statement of intent: “Yoga is mental-movement stopping”.
The Tree pose is one of the mind. When I am not centered, I wobble in Tree pose. We all do! Unlike other poses, Tree is build for people of any build: heavy, light, tall and short, flexible or not, young and old, we should ALL be able to master it. IF … our minds are level, grounded and focused.
And the Tree shakes if we’re not those things, “up there”!
So, lately, I am trying “different” things … I know: “different” is a vague word: well, “different” as in “different than I have tried so far”, shall we say. For instance, I am going to yoga instructors that I have not gone to before. OR, instead of staying away from the ones I went to before and hated, I am going back to them. That kind of different.
So, tonight I went to the one of the latter kind, just to test her again (I thought), after many years. I forgot, really, what she offered “good”. We always do!
A lot of what she offered felt like new to me. We forget so easily, even when we don’t have age as an excuse. Yet.
So, at the beginning at the class, when she was making a call for our focus, she didn’t just talk about breath and quieting down and leaving the world behind, which is what every instructor does. She also asked us to quietly, in our own minds, “give intent to our practice for tonight”. And I thought to myself: “WHAT??? That’s YOUR job! You usually tell us what we accomplish or work towards tonight: open shoulders? Flexible pelvis? Stronger legs? Or breathing? YOUR job!!!”. But she was waiting patiently for us to find in our minds an intent: I didn’t want to lag behind in the practice. So scrambling after the crazy, hectic, nuts kind of the day I had had, I came up with this and told myself, in my mind’s voice: “My intent tonight (I spoke voiceless) is that I want to be focused! I want to be focused on this moment, this body, now, this breath, and nothing else! I will shoo away every foreign thought, noise, happening that’s outside this very body and just stay HERE. Not judge. Just be. And listen. And know. And take THAT into the world when that door will open at the end”…
This is almost impossible to me, because no matter how great the instructor is, and no matter how hard the camel pose, I have “stuff” to think about, like: "Did I pay the bills? Did I feed the cats? Did I turn off the coffee machine? Did I send that email before I left work?” Or “ I wonder if my feet smell? Oh, the person next to me is really wobbly in this tree pose!” – my mind works overtime. All the time!
And tonight, not only my usually un-quiet mind was my enemy, but everything else around me, it seemed! The Universe listened, for once, and threw everything it could think of my way!
I could not get out of my head the idea that the teacher was wearing not only socks, but SHOES too in the class! My favorite teacher, somewhat of my “guru”, because I would do everything that man tells me, even if it were jumping in active lava, always taught us that we do NOT bring shoes in the classroom; we do not allow “unsacred” things to invade the sacred of the room! This instructor had ugly, big, rubber shoes on, stepping on the sacred ground, and on MY mat!!! What a sacrilege!! But I had to get over it. “Stay focus on ME”, I told myself, “and the NOW. Don’t judge it. Just be it”.
Then, she gave me yet another blanket that was wet with sweat and smelled too … Again, I could not focus on my shoulder stand, but on the smell… Again, I drew closer to the NOW and the core of my chakra stem, and blocked away the thought …
And then she came with a different style, too. I like for teachers to tell me what’s next and let my pace do the pose in its own speed. No, she wanted us hanging in the pose, and when we least expected it she’d move us to the next stage. Again, what she wanted was our mind to let go. To be in the now. To listen to it, and follow it. Absorb it, like a sponge does water, and then … let it squeeze the benefits out! She read my mind, somehow, it seemed!! She was the enemy! Or was she my friend? Hhmm…
And there is nothing like a very well-lead Savasana (relaxation pose) that’s disturbed by the noise of the Miller truck pulling in and the sound of the beer crates dragged across the parking lot right outside your window. At that point, I wanted to laugh, it was so helpless … But I didn’t. Following my “intent”, like every lost ship does a beacon, I enjoyed every single muscle and pore being relaxed and melting away in the ground beneath me! All the meetings of the day, and the tense shoulders, and the anchored toes – all melted and were released away in yet another week of life.
With all those challenges, I came out centered. I walked straighter. I drove better, I yielded more, and I can guarantee you my Tree pose would not have been wobbly!
Try it sometime: give yourself as a puzzle to the Universe and watch It solving you! It works! You have ALL the answers within you, but you’re too busy “living” (actually not caring, getting lost in futile, irrelevant, unimportant, superfluous little things) to acknowledge they’re there. But give yourself “intent” and enough room to “listen” and you’ll hear it. Just like “the Alchemist”, you’ll find that the only travel you’ll have to do is down deep; that your treasure is home!