When guiding students through Warrior II pose, I often instruct to briefly shift their awareness to their standing back leg and make sure that it is firmly grounded. Then, to gaze back at their posteriorly raised arm. I offer this instruction because we so often forget about what is going on behind us. But, what is going on behind us is just as important as what is in front of us, and our “now” is sandwiched in between both. If we do not place equal weight in both our front and back foot, then we will not be firm and stable in our foundation. If we let our back arm drop, then we are not allowing energy to flow freely through our upper body. On our mats and in our physical bodies, this principle has a tremendous effect on our practice.
Now, what about when we step off our mats and leave the yoga studio? Can we apply this same principle to our daily lives? Yes, of course! We so often gaze, reach, and even run forward that we fail to acknowledge our present moment, not to mention our past. We carry memories and emotions that have been pushed down, buried deep within our souls. We knowingly or, more often unconsciously, cover up these aspects of ourselves for fear of addressing those experiences that we, for some reason or another, feel are not “ideal.” This is okay; it is totally normal and, in fact, we all do it. Let’s be real here – it’s hard to face that stuff! If it were easy, then it wouldn’t be there. If it were easy, then there would be no reason for us to bury it; we would have dealt with it long ago! But, it is hard. It is hard and often unpleasant work. And, in our busy lives, it may often seem much simpler to just push those things down and keep on moving. In fact, we’re often moving so fast that we don’t even realize that we are pushing things down.
But, what if we pause for a moment? What if we take a moment to gaze back at our posteriorly raised arm? What if we shift our awareness to our standing back leg, just to check that it is still grounded? Can we take a moment to acknowledge our past? A moment to acknowledge that every single experience has led us to this moment, to this very special and precious moment. When we acknowledge our past, even honor it, without attachment, then we are able to stand more firmly, with greater confidence and joy in our present moment. When we see that every piece of our past has built the foundation that we stand upon right now; that the innocence of our first love, the grief of our first loss, the heartache of a breakup, the joy at the birth of a child; that all of it, the joys, the regrets, the sorrows, the laughs, and the tears; that all of it is part of our story. And, this is the best news of all - it is all just a part of our story. None of it actually defines us, and so there is no reason to cling onto it. Can we simply acknowledge and honor it?
When we do this practice, we allow our souls to let go of the past. And, when we let go, we feel lighter. When we let go, energy flows more freely in our body. We stand taller, with greater confidence and an open heart. So, on our mats and off, take a moment to honor your foundation, honor your experiences, and then shift your gaze forward once again. Acknowledge all that has brought you to this most incredible moment.
So much peace to you, my dear friend.