These last few months the theme of relationships has been coming up again and again in my life. I’ve found myself growing new relationships and bonding with people in my community, which is always so fulfilling. But I’ve also experienced shifts in other relationships which have made my heart ache a little. Through all of these relationships, however, I’ve noticed a common thread. Whether the relationship is with a friend, a family member, a love interest or a partner, every relationship teaches me what it means to deepen a connection with another human. And, what do you know! This theme translates to the yoga practice - really well, actually.
If I were to put it into a ‘formula’ it would be:
Consistent effort leads to trust leads to intimacy.
Relationships take consistent effort, patience and time. But when you genuinely care about another, this effort is ultimately easeful and selfless. You want to put in the effort because you care. With consistent effort, we are rewarded a deeper sense of trust. In relationships, the more we show up for the person, the more we nurture that sense between us and them. And eventually, with trust, comes intimacy. We open the door of our heart to that person and share a life-changing connection.
If you’ve ever been in love, had a dear friend, or shared a bond with a family member, then you’ve surely experienced this quality of love. Which means you’ve also experienced this type of trust and intimacy. You feel completely surrendered around this person, like you could share anything with them. You feel comfortable around them and so there is an inevitable shedding and letting go. This type of trust carries with it an intimacy that takes your relationship to new depths and expands your capacity to love and be loved.
The same goes in our yoga practice.
The more consistent we are with our practice, this over time leads us to more fiercely trust what our bodies and minds are capable of. My first yoga teacher always said, “it’s better to meditate 5 minutes each day than 1 hour once a week.” She was speaking to this idea of steady, consistent practice. I also think of the quote by Robert Collier:
“Success is the sum of small efforts - repeated day in and day out.”
Or the quote by Picasso:
“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working.”
It is our tapas (fire, discipline) that motivates us to practice on a consistent basis, whether that means going to the same group class each week or dedicating 10 minutes each day to a movement/meditation practice at home.
It’s this kind of showing up for our practice that leads to trust. Repetition of movement and meditation allows us to slip into a flow state more easily. Once we get the physical parts down and we trust that, we’re invited to dig deeper to the more intimate layers of our practice (what I like to call the “subtle” body). This could mean exploring more refined alignment points. It could mean turning our attention to breath because we are so fluid and comfortable in the asana part. It could mean listening more intently to sensation. It could mean a more focused practice and more encounters with those thoughtless spaces.
When it comes down to it, relationships aren’t easy. But you know you’re in a loving and true relationship when you realize this but still want to put in the effort. Because that person is worth it and they fill you up. So you want to solve any problems that arise. You want to ease any agitations. You want to do thoughtful acts for them. With that effort comes a fulfilling relationship that enhances every other aspect of your life.
And yoga isn’t always easy. But the more we show up on the mat, with time, we experience the letting go and surrender that helps us become more responsive on the mat and in life. We tap into a more innate wisdom that helps us remember what matters in life. We begin to see, again, through the wide, loving lens.
So, as we flow into November, what is your intention for this month? How will you make your practice consistent? Get up five minutes earlier each morning to meditate or practice breathing? Create a yoga schedule for the month so you make sure you get to x amount of classes?
Take time to feel into how you could make your practice (whether that’s yoga, exercise, meditation, breathing, art, etc.) more consistent so, eventually, you can slip into that flow state where there is a higher level of trust and intimacy and fluidity. And always feel free to reach out if you want to share or have any questions!
November Asana Lab: Camel Pose [Ustrasana]
This month’s asana is a bit more advanced. There is a lot going on in this pose, which is why I’m offering warm up postures that will get your body ready for the pose. When done correctly, Camel pose feels invigorating and liberating because it opens and expands the heart. Just be mindful of your lower back and make sure it doesn’t feel compressed or painful.
We are aiming for a harmonious opening through the entire spine, finding space rather than compression. But with consistent effort to engage in the right places, we widely open through the heart and feel those lovely invigorating, inspiring feelings - the same ones we feel when we’re in a fulfilling relationship.
Warm up poses:
- Low lunge [Anjaneyasasna]
- Bridge Pose [Setubandhasana]
- Upward facing plank [Purvottanasana]
- Cobra pose [Bhujangasana]
- Locust [Salabhasana]
Modifications for Camel:
- Curl the toes under so the heels lift higher.
- Place a bolster over your heels so you don’t have to reach down as far.
- Place your hands on your lower back and don’t lean as far back.
Foundational Alignment points:
- Knees hip-width apart
- Ground your shins and either tuck or untuck your toes
- Place your hands on your lower back or on your heels (depending on the mobility in your spine that day)
- Lengthen the tailbone down and lift the pubic bone up to protect the lower back (important!)
- Hug inner thighs toward the midline and lightly contract the glutes
- Draw the shoulder blades together on the upper back and hug your elbows in
- Lift up through the center of your chest
- Reach your knees down into the ground
- Take your throat straight back and then curl the head back.
*As you come up, head comes up last*