March 2011


Amazing to consider how movement begins – how it is to be at the point where your body extends the “you” that is inside and takes it out into the world by shifting some physical part of you.  I wonder how much our movement follows intention and how much it supports our intention of being in the world when we begin to move into and out of yoga postures on the mat.  How different are these movements than the ones we do when off the mat?  How much more attention is involved in beginning movement on your yoga mat?

Do you decide ahead of time how to move – what posture to do?  Is there a sequence to follow?  Is it familiar and routine?  Is there an ideal of what the movement looks like or feels like?  Does it feel like stepping onto your mat or sitting in lotus is where you begin moving, or is that something like a prelude to movement?  Does it matter?

Perhaps it matters only in the level of awareness brought to beginning movement and appreciating what moves you to move.  What might it be like to allow the emergence of movement in whatever way it shows up at that moment on the mat?  What does that look like?   Do you begin with small motions and low energy, in a way that you honor the process of beginning?  Perhaps you start with warm-ups, creating heat and then sparking fire.   Imagine jumping onto the mat and throwing yourself into big energetic movements right away.  How would that serve as a beginning?

Or is there a settling down of energy that happens when you step onto the mat?  Moving into stillness and allowing movement to emerge from there.  The energy that drives your movement can be subtle or consuming, and it can also be drawn from that expansive range in between.  Beginning motion on the yoga mat can serve this energy in different ways.  Sometimes moving might be about creating more energy, and, at other times, it may be in service of controlling or managing the energy that’s there.

For sure, there are shifts of energy in motion throughout your practice.  I’m suggesting that there’s a flow in your movement on the mat – moment to moment – from beginning to middle to end.  I don’t mean in terms of a vinyasa flow or choreographed movement, but motion that has the energy of a wave.  You may not always be aware of exactly where and how it begins, but somethings shifts when you begin moving on your mat.

So the next time you begin your yoga practice, consider these questions – What happens to the “me” when I bring my full awareness to moving my breath and body on the mat?   Am I the mover or am “I” what’s moved?

I imagine that Centering is a process that means something different to everyone.    Do you begin your practice of yoga  with a Centering?  If you do, what is it like?  If you don’t, imagine what it might be like.

Consider these two options:  A Centering where you are checking in with the different aspects of yourself to see what’s happening in the moment and another Centering where you are trying to bring all of you together to experience yourself in a more grounded place.  One is about noticing, not trying to change, not bringing in judgment, just allowing.  The other requires more  intention, though it may also ask you to notice and allow it to happen, but essentially requires you to work with what you notice, to make some changes, maybe let some things go.  I am drawn to say the second demands more effort – though perhaps not necessarily so.

The first option is difficult enough if you really check in and allow without judgment whatever is happening for you in that moment.  How is it to notice how you are breathing, what parts of your body are speaking to you and what parts are quiet?  What is it like to acknowledge what emotions are up for you, both big and small, consuming or not?  What happens when you open up to thoughts and images that are taking up space in your mind, and how do you not get caught up in the story?  And, finally, what does it even mean to look at what might be present for you in that space beyond your body-mind, that connection to whatever might be bigger and more encompassing?  Okay, it is a lot to take in.  Thankfully we all have filters, so we’re not continually overwhelmed by what’s happening now.   I recall the story of the millipede who stopped to consider how he was able to walk with all his thousand legs and feet and then finds that he can’t take another step!

Perhaps this is where the other Centering process steps in – where the work of centering really happens.  This is where you bring it all together, just as it is.  (And try not to think about who it is that’s doing this, just appreciate that it happens.)  Accept that what you’ve noticed is all right here, right now – knowing that to be all that you are in that moment, the present moment, is the most centered you can ever be…

Consider that your yoga practice always begins from a still point.  It may be a nanosecond of stillness, but there is that pause where you are about to begin.  It may just be the equivalent of a long breath in and a longer exhale.

But where is that point – really?  Is it inside some part of you?  Is it in your body, mind or emotions?  Or perhaps in that connection to the spiritual or however you  choose to see what that may be for you.   It could just be that part of you that knows you really well.  The part that knows why you’re there on the mat and what you bring and what you want to take away.  In your core – you know, the part that is often the object of strengthening efforts.  Yes, the part that doesn’t look like it did some years ago or, anyway, not the same as the picture in your mind of what it should look like.  But, I digress…

Perhaps asking what the still point is might be the better question.    Is it a point that we create when stepping onto the mat or one that’s always there but hidden sometimes.  Is it something to look for or does it just show up?  What does it look like?  How does it show up?  Is it an absence of movement?  I think not – because your heart is still beating,  blood is still flowing and you are still breathing.  Movement is happening, not stillness.  So, is it the mind that stills itself as you begin?  Wonder how many of us would never begin if waiting for the mind to be still before we start!  I’m not certain at all that it’s an absence of movement, thought or even emotions.

Suppose the still point were an abundance – an overflow of connection with a stillness bigger than yourself.  And that is what you tap into as you begin your yoga practice.  Like the pause between in breath and out breath – it needn’t be very long or full, or have other identifying qualities, but it is there none the less.  Feels in some way like a coming together, a gathering up, so to speak, and then opening out to take the next step.

Or, perhaps the whole point is about you, the whole of you, becoming that still point by the end of the practice…