A theme that keeps popping up in my life is ‘be gentle’. This reminds me of sutra 2.46 sthira sukham asanam ‘asana is a steady and comfortable posture’. There is not to be gripping, tension, or hanging out in a yoga posture. Asanas are a balance of flexibility and strength. Whether you are standing in tadansana (mountain pose) or trikonasana (triangle pose) there is a combination of strength and suppleness. I find that in postures I tend towards hardening rather than softening while engaging my muscles.
The other day I was watching my cat, Ike, as he was laying around. Suddenly he jumped up and bolted across the apartment. His ability to be strong, agile, yet completely flexible intrigued me. Ike relaxes when it is time to relax, and engages when it is time to play. It is the kind of strength, flexibility, and adaptability that I hope to create in my life. Rather than always living in ‘fight or flight’ mode, being able to be in a state of real relaxation and then adjust as necessary.
As the season shifts slowly from this mild winter to spring I feel as though there is a blossoming and clearing in preparation for the summer months. Even if this winter wasn’t that cold, the short dark days still had the heaviness of winter. As those impressions melt away the idea of gentleness comes forward inviting me to soften as the days lengthen and the warmth comes.
My asana practice has shifted as I try to melt away the hardening and soften into the spring. The challenge to release from the habitual pattern of using strength rather than flexibility is an on going process. As I focus on this intention on my yoga mat I begin to notice the softening in my life. We are our own worst enemies and judgements towards ourselves do not foster an environment for growth. Now is the time to be kind to myself and let go of the lengthy list of things to do and be gentle and more realistic about what I can accomplish in one day. When the judgements fall away, things become much easier.
Live Light Practice:
Allow the self-love and self-care to happen without the underlying judgement. What does gentle mean to you? What does it look like? How do can you be gentle with yourself? What is one way you can be gentle today?