It has been just over a month since I have fallen down a flight of stairs, resulting in hurting myself quite a bit. For the last month, yoga has been a practice of sitting and laying in stillness, resting, and knowing that in time, this too will pass. It is not my first rodeo, as they say. Even though I have known the wearing on patience long bouts of healing bring, it has been a small gift to be reminded of the remarkable practice of patience. As I see it today, patience is waiting with purpose, being still in the not knowing, believing in and leaving room for time to tell the story. Patience is a practice in mindfulness, it requires only being, without being attached. As I return to my practice on the mat I practice slowly, mindful of the places where my body has been screaming out for months, as the fall just compounded pains that already existed. I take into mind what I have been teaching my students, be nice to yourself, mind your body. I listen, I mind, I move slow. My body urges me to seek out the places where space can be made, and to move with more strength in the places where there is instability. Every time I am on my mat I feel my body is echoing the voice of spirit as well as the song of my soul, and my mind is just catching up to the good news; No need to move so quickly, move slowly and see more, feel more, sense more, observe more, or as Ram Das would say "be here now". My body responds to the amount of rest by alerting me to its needs with the awareness of more sensation. I continue to remind myself that on the journey of my on the mat, or in my life, showing up is what really counts. I continue to show up on my mat, even when it hurts, and in my daily life, especially when its hard. Showing up for what is, and being patient for what will be, is the best we can do. If we are fortunate we have many things to bring to the mat, or to the table, or even more magnificent the game of life, when we show up. If we are clear enough about our intentions, motivations, needs, boundaries, and skills we are extraordinarily prepared to respond to what is at hand. If we are patient, we can hold energetic boundaries that enable us to continue perpetual positive progressive momentum. If we are humble, we allow ourselves to have the journey, and others to have theirs as well.
Today I am grateful, I have a heart that enlivens, harmonizes, and pumps the blood through the entirety of my being. I have a mind and consciousness to ask questions and to answer them, to acknowledge the sensation of being in the animate world and to respond in whatever way I may choose. I have the ability to respond with awareness and the use of all of the extraordinary capacities of my body including the limitations of my hurt bones and muscles. Recognizing all of this is enough to make me happy, and in that happiness, it is with a sense of ease that I can continue to be patient for the arrival of whatever gift comes next.
Following is my personal practice from this morning, dedicated to the patient and the teachers of patience, who most often are children and old people, the slow moving people, and to the healing, the creating, and the waiting.
Practicing the Art of Patience on the Mat:
(This practice is supported by strong muscular drawing in, and deep long holds in each pose. Focusing on the surrender of the exhale to allow for a softening within the strength, or the waiting.)
Seated in Sukhasana (Easy Seated Posture) 5 rounds Ujjayi Pranayama, and 10 rounds Nadi Shodana Pranayama.
(Ujjayi Pranayama: breathing in and out through both nostrils with a contraction at back of the throat.)
(Nadi Shodana Pranayama: maintaining Ujjayi Pranayama while using ring finger and pinky finger as well as thumb of the right hand to alternate breath between nostrils. Begin after an inhalation through both nostrils, close one nostril, exhale and inhale through open nostril then switch. Continue in this pattern, exhale/inhale switch.)
Sukhasana: Switch cross of legs, forward fold arms outstretched.
Standing forward fold. (Uttanasana) Bowing over strong legs, fingertips touch the floor (or blocks).
(Tadasana) Stand tall in Mountain pose arms along sides.
Extend arms overhead while bringing your gaze high on your inhalation, and lower arms and gaze to Tadasana (Mountain Pose) on the exhale. Repeat 5 times.
(Uttanasana) Bow forward over strong legs, fingertips touch the floor.
Extend your spine and look forward as you inhale, maintain strong legs, come to finger tips with straight arms or hands to shins. As you exhale bow in. Repeat 5 times.
Inhale to stand tall and reach for the sky, gazing upward. (Urdhva Hastasana), exhale for Tadasana (Mountain Pose).
Inhale for Undvha Hastasana (arms over head) take your left wrist in your right hand and as you exhale reach- hands, arms, spine, ribcage, head,-up and over to the right. After a patient amount of breath, return on an inhale to center, switch hands and exhale to the second side.
Exhale to bow over strong legs. (Uttanasana) Take 5 breaths.
Exhale to Plank pose and all the way down to the mat.
Cobra Prep: Laying on your stomach bend your elbows and place your fingertips in line with your shoulders wider than your mat. Lift your elbows higher to place your shoulders with strength on your back, hold for 5-10 breaths. Rest and repeat 1 time.
Inchworm: Laying on your stomach bend your knees lifting your feet as if you were standing on the ceiling. Press your knees down to lift your hips off the mat, the closer you draw your knees in toward your heart, the deeper the back bend. Take 5-10 breaths, exhale to draw your tailbone down toward the floor, bringing your hips and legs down in succession. As you inhale lift your head and heart and inchworm them forward on the mat. Rest and repeat 1 time.
Cobra. (Bhujangasana) Build cobra pose using Cobra Prep and Inchworm. Move with your breath and repeat as many times as you like.
Childs Pose. (Balasana)
Uttanasana (Standing forward fold)
Lizard Lunge: Begin in a lunge, back leg straight, front knee bent to 90 degrees. Walk hands inside front leg enough to stretch the side of the body nearest the front leg, not so much you feel tightening in the side body (ribs) of the back leg. Turn the top of the back leg in and down toward the floor, take hands wider and onto finger tips, (Cobra Prep in the arms). Look forward and slowly move your heart toward the floor as you tuck your tailbone toward your front foot. Hold for 5-10 breaths, repeat on the second side.
Wide legged forward fold. (Prasarita Padottanasana), hands in Cobra Prep alongside shoulders.
Triangle Pose. (Trikonasana) In Prasarita Padottanasana turn your right foot out so that the heal of the right foot intersects the arch of the left foot. Keeping this, pull your hips back toward the left foot. As you exhale tuck your tailbone to initiate the action of extending your right hand toward your right shin; the floor outstide the right shin; or the big toe of the right foot; on your next exhalation the left arm extends toward the ceiling. Hold 5-10 breaths. Repeat on left side.
Uttanasana (Standing forward fold.)
Intense Hamstring Stretch. (Parsvottanasana) Step one foot back behind you, with the length of one of your legs between each foot. Turn the back foot's toes out 45 degrees. Pull both hips back toward your back foot and bow over your front leg. Refine by lifting your waist and using your tailbone to root your heals as you bow in more deeply. Patiently take 5-10 breaths and repeat on the second side, moving through Uttanasana to switch.
Parsvakonasana Prep/Parsvakonasana (Side Angle Stretch) From Uttanasana (standing forward fold) exhale to a lunge. Turn your back heal to the mat and mindfully placing your front foot so that the heal intersects the arch of the back foot. Walk your hands inside your front foot and place them like you did for Lizard Lunge. Using the strength of your legs, isometrically draw your feet toward each other, with this strength lift your hips and move both hips back beyond your heals. On your inhalation, breathe into the back of your waist between your ribs and hips. Use your breath to expand into the space there, broadening and widening the inside of the back of your pelvis. With an exhalation pull your tailbone down toward your front foot, your pelvic bone and glutial muscle on the front leg will follow. Spin your waist and ribs toward the ceiling, and place your hands accordingly: bottom elbow on the knee and top hand on the hip; or bottom hand on the floor inside or outside the front leg, and top hand and arm extending over the top ear. Take patient breaths and move through Down Dog to repeat on the second side.
Down Dog. (Adho Muhka Svanasana) 5-10 breaths. Use the strength of your legs and abdomen to press your hips up and back, allowing room for and open chest, softness in the back of the heart, and deep breath.
Balasana (Childs Pose) 10 + Breaths
Laying Supine (on your back), bend your knees and lift your hips to place a block under your sacrum (the base of your spine). The following poses can be done without the hips supported if a block is not accessible.
Supta Padangusthasana Prep (Reclined hand to big toe pose) Bend both knees, lift one foot off the floor and draw the knee into your chest. Use the strength of your legs to pull your hips toward your bottom foot. Hold 5-10 breaths, repeat on the second side. After the second side return to the first leg, drawing the knee into your chest and interlacing your hands behind the thigh, as you exhale extend both legs long with the bottom legs heal on the floor, and top leg reaching for the ceiling. Continue to use the strength of your legs to pull your hips toward your bottom foot. Hold 5-10 breaths, repeat on the second side.
Setubhandasana (Bridge Pose) Laying on your back with your knees bent and your shoulders underneath your heart, inhale to make your legs strong and feet heavy, exhale to lift your hips away from the mat. If you have a block support your sacrum and spend 3-5 minutes. If you have no block enjoy 5-10 breaths. Follow an exhale to place sitting bones (the boney part of your butt) down on the mat.
Savasana (Corpse Pose) The epoch of patience on the yoga mat. Enjoy the stillness, the waiting with purpose, the calm and the quiet for as long as you like.
Close with a comfortable seat, and an acknowledgement of your own capacity to be in stillness, to wait with purpose, to move slow, and to know patience.
Always, In All Ways, For Giving,