This month at Evolutions we are working with the idea of fluidity. Yoga is unique among workouts, activities and meditations in how deeply it can help us experience fluidity in the body. The more we practice this flow on our mats, the more easily we can cultivate it in our lives, as we move from one activity to the next, one emotion to the next, one client to another, a high-paced day to a calm bedtime, and so on. Likewise, the more we practice fluidity in the body–say, as we move back and forth between two poses, or through a sun salutation–the more we can find fluidity in the mind: less attachment to certain ideas, more ability to accept last-minute changes, an so on. In all my classes this month we’ve been practicing moving back and forth between a standing forward fold (uttanasana) and an upward-facing forward fold (ardha uttanasana), really feeling the fluidity of the spine. The movement creates a wave in the body as we move with the breath. This is a moving meditation as we fold down, exhaling, and lift the gaze as we inhale. We can find a similar fluidity in our very familiar cat-cow. I’ve been inviting students to start with the tailbone when moving between these two poses, letting the movement–either into cat or into cow–flow up the spine like a wave. Really trying to move like water changes the asana–which we may have done hundreds of times–as we imagine tiny dominoes moving up the spine instead of shifting robotically between the poses.
I’ve also found myself thinking this month about how strong water is–it has the power to carve mountain valleys and create waterfalls that can be heard from miles away–and about how expert water is in finding paths of least resistance. It seems that it’s strength is actually a result of being able to move without resistance, uniting with other waters, using gravity, finding flow. Us humans often think that finding a path of less resistance is weak, or lazy. Or that working hard and finding power has to mean struggle. Sometimes that’s true. But often it’s not, and more flow and peace–and lo and behold also more strength and power–can be found when we release control. The yogic notion of bramacharya comes to mind here, which (while it’s often translated as celibacy), I think of in broader terms, as “energy management.”
These notions came to me in a difficult conversation with a family member recently, in a moment when I wasn’t feeling heard. I had tried a few times to share my view, but my relative interrupted and got progressively louder. I decided to let him finish and to leave some space, going with the flow of what was happening. I then reflected what he was saying to me, and once he himself felt heard, he seemed to soften, at which point I could more effectively share my thoughts. The shift in the conversation came when I relinquished the uphill battle of talking over each other and found some ease. This is different than allowing ourselves to lose power or be trampled–I kept the things I wanted to share there with me and knew I would share them. I did not energetically “quit” or lose contact or feel like I’d “lost” as I chose silence. I kept compassion in my face, let things flow, and gave some of what I myself was seeking. In these moments I furthermore realized I’d been fighting the uphill battle of convincing, and chose instead to simply share my view. All of that increased the amiability of the conversation.
I believe this path of least resistance came to me because I’ve been thinking about water and flow this month… amazing how our thoughts become actions, whether we expect that or not.
Where have you found fluidity or flow? What thoughts do you have about managing your energy or about yoga at the moment? I always love to hear. Namasté!
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