Life is an ebb and flow of beauty and ugliness. It’s filled with swirls of light and shades of grey and darkness. Walk into almost any yoga class and you will likely hear your teacher talk about opening your heart, guiding you through a sequence where you put yourself into various heart-opening shapes dancing close to your edge to connect to the beauty and the ugliness within and around. We leave the class more flexible, in body sure, but most importantly we leave more flexible in heart and mind.
Yoga is all about flexibility in heart and mind. If we aren’t tracking and seeing ourselves evolve into more emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually flexible beings, then we need to check in and reconfigure what our practice is really delivering to us and how we are connecting or not connecting with our practice in an authentic way. Flexibility isn’t without boundaries though. Flexibility is about suppleness within boundaries in the way we live, from how we sleep, eat, drink, and interact with ourselves and others. Flexibility allows us to change with Grace. Flexibility also allows us to change in Grace.
When I first started teaching yoga fresh out of my teacher training, I was teaching at a large fitness club and was told I couldn’t read anything in class; I needed to cover certain power poses, refrain from some poses, and get people sweating and a good workout without all that other yoga stuff. I was blessed with a teaching job and thought “I can handle that” and took the job. Then I got a studio job and the owner told me I had to read quote cards at the end of class. So I did, and it felt awkward and inauthentic to me.
But, something happened and flexibility in my heart and mind guided me to tune into my own authenticity. I had to ask myself why I was so put off by that directive of reading the quote cards and I really had to dig inside and face my rigidness in how I thought I was supposed to teach. In that moment, I knew that yoga, the real yoga, the yoga that connects me to God and Divine love was all about flexibility of the heart and mind.
I no longer read the quote cards, but I did read things that inspired me and felt would inspire others. I also read things at the fitness club. I felt like I was bending the rules, but maybe I was in fact breaking them. I had found a connection to my authentic self as a teacher and storyteller, and if I didn’t share the flexibility that was manifesting in my heart and mind, then I wasn’t going to be true to the teaching within and around me. It turned out that many of the students were starving for spiritual connection and they loved it. So my path as not just a yoga teacher, but a spiritual yoga teacher was born.
Why is my story important to your story? And, why is this relevant to flexibility in our lives? The gem is in the action, the growth, the realization. It has a little something to do with flexibility in our practice and in our lives. I’m passing that gem onto you. Take the gem inside your own heart and mind, and within the boundaries of your practice, asking yourself where your flexibility in your heart and mind is today and what direction it’s taking tomorrow. As we evolve spiritually, we must track and investigate every single day of our lives “Is my intention from a place of love?” and then we must ask “Am I running against Grace or am I dancing with it?”.
Stretch and flex your toes and elongate your muscles all you want, but without breathing deep inside our heart, we face spiritual stagnation to grow in the ethereal stories of our lives.
Breathe deeply a lot, love a lot, and laugh a lot. And don’t forget when doing all those things, to flex your heart and mind in Grace.
Om Shanti Om ~ Athea