I find myself reaching for some perfect way of doing the pandemic when that is obviously absurd on its face. So in today’s episode, inspired by a couple wise yoga teachers and friends, we talk about what it looks like to reorient toward connection not perfection — both on and off the yoga mat.
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Links for you
- Jane House
- Mark Epstein on the Hurry Slowly podcast
- Michelle Marlahan
- Daily practice recommendations in the Studio
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Welcome to Love, curvy Yoga, the podcast where we don’t really know what we’re doing right now either, but we’re happy to be in the don’t know space with you. Now let’s get into it.
Hi, Anna here. Okay, let’s do our check in to get started, and I invite you to really take this pause, it’s so brief, and notice: how are you feeling? What do you need now in your body? I am feeling scattered. I have been, Oh my gosh, spending so much time trying to project into the future despite that being an impossible and futile effort, basically at any time, but especially right now. So in my body I am feeling a tight jaw but also a deeper breath, which tells me that though tension is definitely here, it hasn’t completely taken over. So that’s good information. Up next in our main segment, I am going to talk about making space for connection, not perfection.
So one of my dear friends who’s a wonderful yoga teacher, Jane House, has been teaching a class that I’m able to take now because it has moved online as many have, and in class the past couple of weeks she has mentioned that what we’re doing in our yoga practice is looking for connection, not perfection. And that phrase has really stuck with me. I’ve thought about it in so many different contexts. So she was talking about it in the context specifically in that moment of yoga asana, or the poses, but it just feels really relevant to the rest of life right now, doesn’t it?
And I’ve been thinking about it a lot in regards to how I am, I don’t even know what the right word is handling, approaching, melting down during this pandemic. I’ve really noticed how I have almost nothing but criticism for myself. It’s like I’m too busy. I’m avoiding, I’m overreacting, I’m numb, I’m not getting whatever benefits I could be getting out of this. I’m not learning enough. I’m not taking advantage of all the online offerings. I’m not helping other people enough. And on and on and on. It’s really exhausting. So when I try to do a reframe in terms of connection not perfection, and perfection is definitely what all of those, I am doing too much of this, not enough of that is about, what I had noticed first is a shift in my body. So I can almost feel myself shift back inwardly into my body. So just if you can kind of imagine like a little kid on their tip toes with their fingers curled around the edge of a window frame, trying to peek and look out a window, that’s kind of what I feel like internally in that perfection space. Like errrr, there’s so much kind of grasping and craning. And the dropping back into connection kind of feels like settling in to something where I can stay for a little while.
I heard a good analogy for this the other day. So I was listening to the Hurry Slowly podcast and the guest was Mark Epstein, and he was talking about meditation, and he mentioned inviting the mind to rest into the body. And I just felt such a like, ahhhh, when I heard that like a coming back, a dropping in. I’m wondering what lands for you when you think about inviting your mind to rest into your body?
It reminds me of an email from a friend of mine, another wonderful yoga teacher, Michelle Marlahan. This is something that she sent out to her whole email list and in it she tells one of her favorite spiritual teaching stories. So she writes about this story kind of describing it to us: A seeker goes to his teacher to ask how to access the level of awareness and peace he seeks. The teacher says, go to the field and dig for water. There you will find what you seek. So the student goes out, digs a hole, doesn’t find any water, and begins again. And he does this many times without finding water.
And then Michelle kind of continues the story and says, frustrated, he goes back to his teacher and tells of his fruitless efforts. I dug many holes. I worked tirelessly looking all over the field, yet I could not find water. The teacher says, yes, you worked hard indeed. However, you will never find water in all these holes. The student looked at her quizzically. But you said to dig for water. Yes, the teacher replied, dig one hole until you reach water. It’s better to dig one six foot hole than to dig six one foot holes.
And this really resonated with me at this time, particularly in the context of connection versus perfection because I find myself digging a lot of shallow holes. I’m wondering if this will help me weather the uncertainty, oops, no, Hey, what about that over there? Uh, what if I asked this person or sign up for that online course that I never started? What if instead I get really, really, really, really busy or keep ignoring the voice inside that says to slow down? Guess what? That last one is not working! So perfection has me digging holes all over the field. But connection — with myself, my inner voice, my body, my feelings — asks me to slow down and dig deeper. And I don’t know where I’m digging to or what I’m going to find, but the connection and cultivating in the process feels worth continuing to uncover.
Okay. So up next a few reminders.
Here are the most important reminders. Yoga is not about perfection and never has that been more obvious than when we’re all practicing at home all the time. No one can see you! So move your body how you like. It’s such a great opportunity to dig a deeper hole in your practice and make it your own.
No matter how many times you leave, forget about or criticize your body, it’s never too late to come back. You could do it any time. Even now. One deep breath is a really good place to start, and just as a reminder, no one is with their body 247. I kind of think of it like breathing. There’s an inhale and an exhale, a going away and a coming back.
You can invite your mind to rest in your body. One way to maybe try that is to work with grounding. So maybe feeling your feet on the earth, your bum on the chair, your lengthening spine, maybe the rise and fall of your chest or belly while breathing.
Most important reminder: You’re doing great.
Okay, a couple logistical reminders. In the studio we are still in our April theme of daily practices for what you need right now, and if you’re listening in relative real time, there’s still almost a full week of this left. I’m not really sure how there’s so much of April left, but there is so we get to keep working with this. And if you are not yet a member and you’d like to join, you can do that at curvyyoga.studio. We would so love to have you with us and you can use the code curvy C U R V Y to save 50% off your first month.
If you have questions, comments, suggestions for things you would like to hear on the podcast, please do send that my way. I can’t emphasize enough how much I love responding to questions on here or picking up on a thread of an idea that you’re curious about. That just really is my favorite way to do the podcast, so if you have anything, it’s firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let’s close here with one breath together. We’ll inhale and exhale. The light in me honors the light in you. Namaste.
Stay tuned next week where, you know the drill by now, we will see what we talk about.