Each time at the start of a yoga practice, the instructor asks that we set an intention for that day; “What is it you would like to focus on today to get the most out of your time here?” I usually struggle to find my intention and get caught up in trying to find the right answer. I pressure myself into thinking there is a really cool and purposeful thing I should be focusing on, and if I don’t come up with it, I am missing out on some great ancient yoga secret.
Sometimes I try to set grandiose intentions – freedom from all pain, anxiety, and conflict in my life, from here until eternity. Sure, that can happen in an hour. Usually, I am still staring at the blank slate of my mind when the instructor has moved on, so I just skip setting my intention. But then I am left feeling like I missed out on an opportunity.
Today the opportunity came up again; “What is your intention?” And out of nowhere it came to me – Just let go. That was it. That simple. My intention was to let go. No more focusing on what I thought should be happening or what I might be missing out on, just be in the moment and experience it. And experience it I did. It was my best practice by far. My focus was completely on my body, the movement, and what I was experiencing. I found myself more stable and comfortable in poses that are normally problematic for me. My balance was greater. My range of motion was better. My focus was clearer. I found a wonderful balance between effort and ease. It really was a joyful practice.
At the end of each session we get into my favorite pose – savasana. That is the time where it all comes together for me. I can feel how my muscles have loosened and elongated. I can feel how the tension has left my neck and upper back. It is a time of complete joy and peace for me – my favorite part of every practice. Today I felt especially connected to everything; to the mat beneath me, to the music swirling through my body, to my breath as it expanded my abdomen and sustained me from the inside. If I didn’t discover that ancient yoga secret today, then there isn’t one.
And how simple really, I just let go and let myself be in the moment instead of in my head. Now really, isn’t this a concept we can apply to every aspect of our lives. How much less stressful would life be if we could learn to let go of what we believe is expected of us, and just be who we are in every given moment? I am probably the least flexible person in most of my yoga classes, but each stretch benefits me just as much as it does my 60 year-old neighbor who can reach her toes with ease. I need to remember that.
Today was a great experience of just letting go, but it took me many yoga practices to get there. It is something I am going to have to continue practicing too. Practice letting go. Practice being in the moment. Practice acceptance of where you are, and then you can work on reaching where you want to be. I want to touch my toes with ease one day, but it will never happen if I don’t practice.