When teaching my yoga classes, I often say, “Pay attention to the experience you’re creating in this moment.” I say this to encourage people to recognize what they are feeling as they undertake different poses, practice conscious breathing, or notice their thoughts. So often, we assume that the instructor is the person who will create what happens to us during the class. I mean, they’re in charge, aren’t they?
Well, yes and no.
Many of us attend classes in search of direction given by the teacher. An effective instructor is able to create a particular environment through their use of language, studio set-up, and tone of voice. However, I view my role as a teacher who has just given everyone in the class an essay topic; yet I know that everyone will write their own story. Ultimately the practitioner is in charge of their practice and should feel empowered to make choices based on how they are in each particular moment. And therein lies part of the challenge…we need to be completely present and insightful to know what it is we need as our body and mind are in continual states of flux.
Another layer is to recognize the harmonious relationship between our body and mind throughout any movement experience and, if we sense friction between what our mind is asking our body to do, we might best be served to listen and adjust. It redirects our focus to one of joy and positivity rather than a sense of dread during the practice. With that being said, it involves paying attention to all sensations, even the most challenging ones. I love the feeling of being out on the road bicycling with my legs working, heart pumping, hearing the sound of my breath. I feel the wind on my face and whatever the conditions may be I awaken to a sense of complete presence. I can create this connection to my experience by allowing myself to be in it, even if it’s hard. The moment where it feels like I’m unable to sustain the pace, I acknowledge that I’ve hit my edge and try to enjoy what just transpired.
And that’s the key…finding and creating the joy within what we’re doing. We are so easily led to focus on everything but the moment of contentment, yet when we tap into the senses we are able to deepen our connection to the inherent pleasure gained when our mind and body find congruence.
When we begin to examine our current state, we also unveil whether or not we are living the life we want. When we take a moment to explore our deepest desires, we can uncover what that is and notice if we are acting in ways that affirm our deepest intentions. It has been said that we create our own reality which may include both suffering and joy. My hope for everyone is that what we find lightens our hearts and brings smiles to our faces.
Jayne Robertson is owner and instructor at Desert Yoga Therapy in Rancho Mirage. For more information, visit
www.desertyogatherapy.com or call (760) 456.5160. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.