Stop Doing Yoga
The day I became a yoga teacher is the day I stopped doing yoga.
Previously, I balanced on one leg with my hands in the air in what I thought was a pretty good tree pose. My ego had me looking in the mirror at the images of my peers and their tree poses. Some of the other yogis in the room could raise their legs higher than mine. I was proud of not wobbling as I held my tree pose for at least a minute but my goal would be to emulate the more experienced yogis. I wanted to “do” the perfect tree pose.
It was during the 200-Hour Hatha Teacher Training at A Yoga Village that instead of seeing my reflection in the mirror and that of my peers, I began to truly reflect. I began to reflect on what I was doing, how I was doing it and most importantly, why I was doing it.
The “what” and “how” was easy. I was doing a tree pose with the correct foundation and alignment needed for the pose but “why” did I want to stand on one leg in the first place and raise my hands in the air? I thought it was to improve my health, keep fit, improve my balance, and improve my concentration, testing my strength, stability and discipline. I felt pretty proud of myself as I saw how I got better and better over time. That was the “why” I came up with. That was why I was “doing” yoga. Indeed, yoga does all of the above and it’s a great way for me to keep youthful and also calm my mind after a vigorous and challenging work day. This was a challenge of a different sort and one I enjoyed.
But in my tree pose something was missing. I didn’t see or experience the forest, only my tree. I connected equally my foot to my thigh and my thigh to my foot, drawing in to the centerline of my body. I was so busy on the outside drawing in, I couldn’t experience a true connection to the external world around me. I was so caught up with my tree that my connection to the forest evaded me. Because I couldn’t truly connect to the external world, I found myself buffeted like a tree branch in the wind. Perhaps as a child, I was buffeted and slapped by winds that were so strong, I didn’t dare to come out of my shell for fear of getting blown over yet again.
It was during my Teacher Training at the Village that I realized I was unbalanced. I was drawing in so tightly, thinking the only reality was inside myself that I forgot the connection trees have in the forest.
My teacher Jaye Martin taught me the Universal Principles of Alignment. One of them was muscular energy, which I employed in my tree pose and the one of them was organic energy, which was new to me. Organic energy is sending energy from the center back out into the physical world. Connecting to all there is as a tree connects and is a part of the forest.
I tried using organic energy in my tree pose. I continued to draw in with my muscular energy to hold the pose, then like a tree, from my center I sent my energy down into the earth like the roots of a tree and I sent my energy out through my branches to the light above. I could feel my connection to the energy at the center of the earth and to the energy of the sun above. I could feel myself grow and expand. I could feel myself reaching and opening, expanding into my fullness. I connected as a tree connects. I connected as a part of nature.
We have that same energy as a child, which can be suppressed through unkindness or ignorance, or we forget about as we grow older. You can see the natural organic energy in a child as they “become” what they are playing at. You can see children pick up items about half their body weight even though they have not yet developed muscles. A small women in panic would use the same organic energy to lift a car off someone they love that’s trapped underneath.
This is the power we have that is as innate to us as is our knowledge and wisdom. Yoga teaches us to connect to this power, this energy, which is more than brains and brawn. It’s our connection to our inner and external worlds. Our connection to the essence of our being. Coming together and reaching out at the same time. Balancing. An inhale and exhale joining as one breath, as the breath of life. Becoming instead of doing. As an individual point of consciousness connecting to an ocean of consciousness.
I now enjoy becoming a tree instead of just doing the motions. I can experience more fully what it is to become instead of just do. You can do life or you can become life. Your life will be so much richer for the experience of becoming all that you cherish.
And cherish my yoga community I do. My life has become richer and fuller as my relationships have grown in the community called A Yoga Village. I know by becoming yoga I receive love. After I guided a class, one of the yogis came up to me and told me they feel loved. They return that love by sharing even when they are experiencing self-love. That’s yoga, that’s becoming. That’s Becoming Yoga.