The other day I was sitting in a vinyasa yoga class waiting for the teacher to start when a woman walked in behind me. She rolled out her mat with a loud "thwap" and then dropped her blocks with a thud on the ground. I could hear her sit down heavily and take a drink out of a crinkly water bottle.
In an attempt to be kind, I thought, "This woman doesn't have very good body awareness......poor thing is probably just clumsy."
When class started, I was aware of her movements behind me. She moved quickly and noisily into the poses. I couldn't see her until we moved our mats to the wall for forearm stand. While most of the students were still positioning their mats against the wall, the woman had already kicked up vigorously into the pose.
What I saw next really surprised me. While I assumed the "poor clumsy" woman would be flopping all over the place trying to get into this advanced pose, she was actually holding a nearly perfect forearm stand.
Although she had learned to execute her poses beautifully, the manner with which she arrived there caused her to miss the most important teaching of the practice of vinyasa yoga.
Vinyasa means, "to place in a special way".
The idea is to approach the yoga practice with intention, awareness, and grace from start to finish. And not just the poses, but the whole class. The way you enter a room and set up your mat is as important as the way you move from pose to pose, which is as important as the way you gather your things to leave the room when class is over.
When we practice in this manner, the entire experience becomes a "moving meditation". Our deliberate and conscious movements create a focus and stillness in our minds despite the dynamic and changing environment of not only the class, but our bodies as well.
According to yoga philosophy, when we have a still mind, we are connected to our center, which is the source of peace, love, and knowing. Some yogis would even call this our personal connection to the Divine or God.
The philosophy and practice of yoga is intended to help us improve our lives.
Moving through a dynamic and challenging yoga practice with intention, awareness, and grace, can teach us to move through our dynamic and challenging lives with the same intention, awareness, and grace.
Our relationship with ourselves and others will surely improve if we approach whatever we are doing in "a special way". Whether we are cooking a meal, listening to a friend, communicating with coworkers, practicing yoga, or entering a room, we should be aware of our thoughts, words, and actions from beginning to end as we move through the experience.
"How you climb up a mountain is as important as how you get down it. So it is with life. In the end, it all comes down to grace."
The other day as I was getting out of my car at the Stop and Shop, I heard a terrible screeching sound behind me.
There was an SUV that had plowed into a small car, and was pushing it across the parking lot. The car was brought to a stop when it hit a wall. The SUV was relentless as it continued its' attack on the small car as if it could drive right through it. The tires on the SUV spun violently and filled the air with a black and acrid smoke.
As I dialed 911, My first reaction was, "Oh my God, there is a crazy person trying to kill someone with his car!" After getting a better look at the driver, I saw that his head was tipped back and his arms were in a rigid position which appeared to be the result of seizure. His foot must have been locked onto the gas pedal which propelled the car forward at a very high speed.
With the ambulance on it's way, I thought, "What can I do to help?" My thoughts of assistance were thwarted by the thought, "What if I am wrong about the seizure and that actually is a crazy man using his car as a weapon? I also worried that even if it was a seizure, trying to stop an out of control car was way too dangerous for me.
As I stood frozen in fear, two men ran past me and toward the SUV. They approached the dangerous scene despite the risk of harm to themselves. Several others were running toward the scary scene as well.
Without hesitation, one man used his elbow to break the SUV's window. Another man reached in and put the car in park. As they attended to the unconscious victim, the ambulance approached and took over.
As the two heroic men walked towards me to go back to their normal lives, I was humbled.
I felt a rush of gratitude fill my heart as I looked into their courageous and caring eyes. I reached out my hand and said, "Thank you." I wanted to give them something for their selfless service, but I could only give them my gratitude. It seemed like a meaningless gesture compared to the meaningful act I had just witnessed.
Seeing the courage and selfless devotion of people has the ability to change our hearts.
My heart changed that day.
Not only was I grateful that the kind strangers got a dangerous situation under control, but I was grateful for the reminder of the innate goodness in people. This beautiful act of caring brought to my awareness the fact that we are much more dependent on each other than we sometimes want to believe. This truth proves to me the interconnectedness of all beings.
According to author Phillip Moffitt in his article called Selfless Gratitude, "practicing gratitude consistently leads to a direct experience of being connected to life and the realization that there is a larger context in which your personal story is unfolding."
Practicing gratitude for the people that you know and love is one thing, but becoming openly and regularly grateful for the people you may not know takes commitment and thoughtfulness. Making a conscious effort to have gratitude for those whose service touches your life directly or indirectly, will remind you that each and every one of us has an important part in the human existence as a whole.
With gratitude for the women and men of the US military in mind, I share this poem by Trish Z.
All Abhyasa Ahimsa Aparigraha Asmita-Ego Attachment Baron Baptiste Beginner's Mind Bramacharya Carl Jung Clear Seeing Colorless Comfortable Discomfort Creating Spaciousness In Mind And Body Cultivate The Opposite Deepak Chopra Dharma Empty Your Cup Enthusiasm Equanimity Family Fight Or Flight Great Vows Inner-awareness Inner Critic John Kabbatzinnb2faff332d Listening Mirrors To Ourselves Monkey Hunting Non Stealing Patanjali Pause Pillar Pleasure And Pain Posseses Us Practice Pratipaksa Bhavana Pratyahara Present Moment Present Moment Awareness Respond Instead Of React Samadhi Samskara Santosha Satya Sauca Sensual Pleasures Shadow Side Spirituality Steadiness And Ease Sthira And Sukha Strength Sustained Attention Svadhyaya There You Are Thich Nat Hahn This Too Shall Pass True Self Uncertainty Universal Truth What We Possess Wherever You Go Wisdom Yoga Philosophy Yoga Sutra 1. 14 Yoga Sutra 1.33 Yoga Sutra 2.33 Yoga Sutra 2 37cfe9965fa2 Yoga Sutra 2. 46 Yoga Sutras