When you make subtle movements in yoga, the pose takes on a whole new feel and meaning, a subtle shift of the gaze or movement of the hips. This can certainly be true in our day to day lives, if we make subtle movements our lives can take on a whole new feel and meaning.
Every morning waking to the same alarm, heading to the same coffee shop, taking the same route to work, life can begin to feel a bit like groundhog day. Our bodies and our minds get use to the monotony and we become like robots working on autopilot.
For several years I practiced yoga with the same group of teachers, getting to know their cues and their music, I knew their next move. I flowed from one pose to the next driving through the flow. Until one day I decided to make a subtle shift.
I decided to step outside my yoga comfort zone and take a class in a new studio. I was out of my element, feeling like it was the first time I’d ever practiced. I walked into the room, it was as hot as I’d ever experienced, and it wasn’t a Bikram class. It was like a party, everyone seemed to know each other, people were jumping from mat to mat to giving hugs and seeing how each others lives were going. The energy in the room was far different than the classes I had grown so comfortable with, it was both intimidating and inspiring.
I found a little spot in the corner next to the wall and set my mat down. The air was thick and still. I hadn’t eaten and I was beginning to feel a little faint, I wanted to get the hell out of there! Class hadn’t even begun and already I was freaking myself out, I kept telling the Negative Nancy in my head to “shut up!” I was not going to pick up my mat and leave, I am going to do this!
The class began and the instructor meandered through the people, cueing and adjusting. As we moved through simple warm up poses, the sanskrit words I thought I knew so well began to sound like a foreign language.
I was moving with trepidation, feeling like it was my first class ever! This was awful!!! This guy was tough, did we really need to hold warrior two for 5 minutes???And what happened to my balance?? I felt like a lost mess, yet I still managed to power through and after what felt like 2 hours I made it to savasana.
I laid there trying to slow down and rest, my heart pounding, my body drenched in sweat ,I began to sob, what was my deal?? I stayed quiet letting the tears stream down the sides of my face as I eventually rolled up to seated position. With my hands in prayer, still dripping with sweat and tears, I bowed my head in gratitude and thanked my body and mind for showing up that day.
Just when I thought I could grab my mat and run out, my neighbor turned to me to introduce herself and asked me how long I’d been practicing. I could barely speak without almost crying again. I wondered, could she tell that it wasn’t sweat on my face, that I’d been sobbing next to her for the last 10 minutes? She simply smiled and said “well it’s nice to meet you, you have a beautiful practice” I thanked her and we both went on our separate ways. After class, I sat in my car uncontrollably crying with my sunglasses on, hoping no one would see me as they left the class.
I couldn’t quite understand why it had caused such a reaction in me. I knew that at the time I had a few things going on in my life, but wow, I didn’t expect to leave class in such a way!
Once the tears had subsided, I was able to appreciate what I had just gone through. Blame it on the hip openers, but I’d survived a class that I thought was literally going to kill me, I felt exhilarated. What I thought was just a subtle shift in my routine, turned out to be an experience that I will never forget.
I realize not every small shift in our day will cause such a cathartic experience, but maybe, just maybe, if we made subtle changes in our lives we could experience something greater than we had imagined.
What would it feel like to put our yoga mat in a new spot in class? What would it feel like to say hello to someone new? What would it feel like to try a different coffee shop, or take a different route to work. How would those changes affect our day? As simple as these things may seem, the subtlety of change may actually surprise you!
Make a “subtle” movement today, enjoy it and SHINE ON!!!
“Every day is an opportunity to learn something or discover something or someplace. Be curious, play, go out on a limb, walk a different way to work, try a new food at dinner and keep learning and growing.”
— Sandra Magsamen