There are basically two kinds of yogis in the world: ones who are open to grace and ones who think that they're open to grace. The difference between the two has everything to do with being founded in the head vs. being grounded in the heart space. We all have our own reasons for starting and continuing to practice. We all have issues in our tissues. We all have similar experiences that bind us as a community of practitioners. The question is are you in touch with your purpose? In the words of one of my great teachers: " Know what you're doing here, otherwise, you're just doing Jazzercise". Have you ever struggled and fought your practice, only to have the instructor look at you, see right through the shit, and softly smile as if they know something about you that you don't yet know about yourself? Behind that smile, is the knowledge that each person can, at any moment, tap into something deeper on their mat. The yoga practice has never been simply physical, nor has it been fully accepted in the West for all that it is and all that it can offer. I for one, am just as concerned about the personal breakthroughs, realizations, and spiritual growth of my students as I am with their physical practice. My hope is that as a yoga teacher, I can provide the environment for students to feel relaxed and comfortable enough to ground into their heart space and allow for perhaps a bit of grace.
I have experienced grace on the mat, for sure. Those experiences, even for someone like me, who has a notoriously poor memory, just seem to stick. I remember the first time clearly. I had experienced the first deep breath coming out of Ustrasana. I had no real perception of where I had been, almost as though nothing existed before that breath. My mind was clear in that moment. No judging, no discerning, no hating. My attention and thoughts seemed to begin right there, beginning with the physical body and space. I looked down, as I stood on my knees, thinking "what the...?" My skin probably hot to the touch, eyes blood-shot red and burning, and a crazy puddle of sweat beneath me, I began to shift my awareness. I remember looking around and thinking "What am I doing here; who are all these people; and why is it so effin hot?". There was no judging the others surrounding me, as I'm sure I was feeling a sense of oneness with them. I felt at peace, but not in a cognitive way. The peace was there, entirely alone, as though it was everything, without even the threat that something else could come along and interrupt it. Call it simply a moment of stillness or pure presence. I recall it fondly, and for different reasons.
That moment for me represents home - the place I strive to return to every time I step on my mat. I strive by allowing. That experience of "coming home" provides fuel to my patience as I dedicate myself to the very openness that brought me home in the first place. What I'm saying is that when we practice simply, with good intentions and an open heart we all have the chance to go deeper and experience grace.
We look to refine our postures. We seek a greater degree of control over our breath. We look to strengthen our bodies and quiet our minds as a means of removing obstacles towards being swept away by our own grace. So, carry on yogi. Practice with purpose and no worries.