Days 7-15: Riding the Wave

How the time flies! How can I already be at Day 15? And yet, on Day 9 I was asking myself how I was going to keep this up for another 21 days…

Fortunately, my teacher training weekend arrived just in time to renew my spirits and my practice. This weekend was all about the water element, hip opening and connecting to swadisthana chakra, and lord was that precisely what I needed. Having always fancied myself something of a fish (as a child I spent my summers more in the water than out), clearly I had the water thing in the bag. Clearly….

Or not.

Seems in the years that passed between my fish days and my current attempt at adult life, my fluid sensibilities have suffered. Because when it came to really swimming through a practice what I discovered was not the deep sense of ease I’d expected, but a deep sense of awkwardness.

And nowhere did I feel more ridiculous than when faced with the breath dancing of prana yoga. Here we were instructed to begin with a rocking of the pelvis, a subtle tipping back and forth following our inhales and exhales. Next the spine would join in, then the scapula, and finally, floating atop the waves of breath, our arms. This all sounded well and good and looked, excuse the pun, breathtaking in action. But when it came to attempting it myself, I was shockingly and utterly lost.

I just couldn’t feel it. In fact I couldn’t feel anything genuine in this movement. My dance was forced, at times jerky, and above all, phony. At one point, my teacher chimed in that, “If you feel like you’re doing the hippy dance, you’re trying too hard.” I was doing the hippy dance. And trying way too hard. And it made for a very uncomfortable twenty minutes.

The good news (or terrible news, depending on how you looked at it) was we’d be practicing this “dance” twice more during the weekend.

It was during round number two, when were were instructed to begin the dance seated, that something finally clicked. Or, more accurately, unclicked. It really is all about letting go, and this practice was no different. Did I become the most natural, graceful yogic dancer in the blink of an eye with my newfound revelation? Far from it. But the notion of moving on top of the breath, of letting the body ride the wave of each inhalation and exhalation finally made sense, and I knew I was “doing it right” by the sudden feeling of weightlessness. Like I’d been a fish flopping around on the ground this whole time, and someone had finally done me an epic favor by nudging me back into the water.

As soon as we were asked to continue our prana yoga standing, however, the spell was broken. It took me some time, but I was able to drop back into my weightless dance for a minute or two here and there. I can imagine that with continued regular practice of this dance upon the breath, I’ll eventually find my way back to the water for good.

Since my return to Wilmington, I’ve found a renewed energy in my practice, but not the time to indulge it. My past few home practices have been juicy but short-lived, so tomorrow I’m setting aside two hours just for practice. It’s going to be a cool, rainy day, and I have no excuses not to give myself that time. So I’ve promised myself plenty of time to shut the door, light the candles, and allow my breath to guide me.

What happens in those two hours is entirely up to me… I have a feeling it will include a bit of flopping around on dry land followed by some serious swimming 🙂

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