It’s been a brutal winter. The trees are in shock. It’s May and they’re still struggling to turn out new blooms. The first few days of sun, the first few glimpses of shorts and tank tops, convertibles with the top down and those familiar lines at the ice cream joint are finally back.
But more surprising to me than old man winter’s stamina and sudden exit has been my own spring yoga practice. It was so easy to come home from teacher training in Pavones to the still hibernation of January, to continue my practice each morning, as each night’s darkness slowly faded into snowy light. But now that the birds are up before me, now that the sun is shining brightly as I rise, I’m finding it hard to preserve my “usual” practice. I’m finding it hard to balance the energy springing up inside me. Muscles twitching. Eyes spontaneously opening in savasana. Sitting up, opening up to the unfamiliar climate around me. I want to prance, run, pedal, jump, shout!
The ‘yang’ of summer is barging in. While I welcome the higher temps with open arms, I’m having a hard time incorporating the energy they are generating into the yoga practice I’ve become so familiar with in the ‘still’ of winter. I’m not as interested in the stillness of yin poses as I once was. Sitting in each form, I’m reaching for more stretch, more breath, more pulse. I find myself doing lots of spontaneous flows and energetic, cleansing Kriya movements. This too is yoga, and I find myself thinking “hmm, that’s an interesting choice, body” but it’s hard to totally let go of my winter self. Is this rambunctious creature equally me? If I practice non-attachment, and really embody this new energy, where does that old energy live? Am I going to settle back into a somewhat more familiar practice as summer wears on, or will I continue to be a little bug flying on and off the mat?
Instead of attempting to answer these endless questions, I’ve been trying to embrace this emerging yang, this assertive, fluttering movement. Letting this yang nurture the essential yin inside, learning to love each energy and the precarious balance they share.
I was challenged to be at peace with this constant change by a quote from Swami Satchidananda:
“[O]ur own bodies are changing every second. Yet we take the body to be our Self; and, speaking in terms of it, we say, “I am hungry” or “I am lame”; “I am black” or “I am white.” These are all just the conditions of the body. We touch the truth when we say, “My body aches,” implying the body belongs to us and that therefore we are not that.”
So, slowly, I’m accepting that I am not my yoga practice. The flowing movement that my body is asking for probably knows more about what’s real than my head thinks it does. Learning to observe who I am by organically moving through my practice in a non-attached way is the newest, best way I have to understand myself and the changes that I’m going through and flowing through.
I’m glad my body is letting go of winter. Even if it is in it’s own, somewhat rough and dynamic way. I don’t need to worry when my eyes flutter open as my mouth curves up in savasana and I hop up off the mat to smile in the sun.
This constant change can be my yoga too.