Sometimes a yoga practice has to be just that: a practice, something that we do again and again, repeating the familiar in the hope that, one day, it will expand into the extraordinary.
As a yoga teacher, there’s often a pressure to come up with some amazing focus or theme for a yoga class. That pressure can create all sorts of wholly unnecessary anxiety and tension that is entirely un-yogic, and quite beside the point. Sometimes inspiration does come easily – I’ll see a picture, or move in some unusual way, or attend a workshop, and it develops into a whole week (or even two) of exploration. And then sometimes, I’m a bit tired, a bit lacklustre, maybe absorbed in something else, and when I get on the mat there’s … well, there’s nothing. No inner voice suggesting a particular image or approach. No desire to even practice a specific pose. And then what do I do? All the doubts rush in – what should I teach? If I can’t even inspire myself, how can I inspire my students? How do I even dare to call myself a yoga teacher? The arrogance! The hubris!
And then, because I do try to be a bit disciplined (it gives me a chance to indulge my inner critic), I get out the mat, and force myself to lie on it. And sometimes something happens and it’s magical. And other times, like yesterday, I have to admit that I just laid there for what seemed like ages. Literally, just laid there, like a lump. Even the cats didn’t come to investigate. When I realised I was really on my own, with my body, and my mat, I just did a bit of yoga. Just a few postures. Nothing outstanding, nothing more than the usual – a bit of curling up through the spine, a supine twist, a down dog, a leg stretch and a standing twist, with a balance thrown in for good measure – and then I laid back down again for savasana. And, miraculously, it was enough.
I went and taught just that practice (after all, it was all I had). The yoga class was very simple, rather subdued perhaps, but nevertheless we moved, breathed and asked ourselves to develop sensitivity. And I felt ok, and students seemed to like it. It answered a need for simplicity and quiet. And, maybe because of its simplicity, it stopped me talking so much for a change.
Sometimes, all you need is to get on the mat, and bang out some postures. Not literally move through them mindlessly, but just do it.