Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Art of Slowing Down - Learning to feel...

Yesterday I took a workshop in Calgary, with Susie Hately-Aldous, called Advancing your yoga practice - The Art of Slowing Down. Susie has a real curiosity and immense knowledge about the human body that translates into a lot of amazing questions and discussion.

There are tonnes of things we played with yesterday that I look forward to using, both in my own practice and in my teaching. Some things I enjoyed most about Susie's sequences is that they were exploratory yet simple, they encouraged relaxation and they created space in my torso for the breath to expand more fully in my body. Thanks Susie!

I have always been intrigued to explore postures more deeply and softly in my own body and this workshop was no exception. I felt myself listening keenly throughout the day, often closing my eyes and following the breath to find a great sense of release and awareness in each posture. I found myself asking new questions about the way the shoulder blades move on the backside of my body and inquiring within myself about how i can more fully let go and surrender the weight of my body into the earth. Furthermore, how can i help my students to move beyond their thinking minds towards a place where they intuitively and accurately feel their bodies? feel their hearts?

Ultimately moving them towards a deeper place of surrender and acceptance of what is - with the belief that true change begins when we can fully accept where we are right now, in this present moment.

Since returning from Brasil I have been thankful each morning for the time and space I have to practice and delve deeper into my fascination of movement and in the process widening my understanding of myself. Yesterday, that sense of gratitude expanded to appreciating and loving every downward dog, giving myself fully to feel the posture each time as if it was the first time I had ever experienced it.

And then,
This morning i awoke to a thick blanket of white.
A winter wonderland.

As days shorten and temperatures drop it seems like an appropriate time to contemplate the art of slowing down.

So this morning I decided to take the time to walk down to the Yoga Lounge where I was teaching a mixed level ashtanga class. Based on my experience yesterday I wanted to bring people to the present moment of each posture. I wanted them to FEEL and LISTEN to their bodies. So as a class we moved through the standing series, doing each posture twice - the first time I gave people a few cues, the second time I had people feel and move their own way into the pose. I encouraged people to let go of the perceptions they carried about what the postures should feel like or look like and instead explore the layers of language that their bodies could share with them about what was going on.

I suppose only they know if they heard or felt anything new. It is my hope that i created the space and possibility for softness, listening and freedom.

happy winter!
i'm going to make a snow angel.


Come Sail Away said...

Hi Sarah, Thank you, thank you! Michelle here, one with the bad knee from Yoga Lounge :). I have moved to the Caribbean for the winter to start my own little project and time for practice these days has dwindled to a mere 3 precious downward dogs this morning. Thank you for sharing what you taught this morning... weird to say that I felt my body was there and going through those standing postures twice with you! Namaste.

Sara Noyes said...

great post. that was a wonderful class to participate in and a welcome different approach to the ashtanga series. learning where to push yourself vs. how to relax and let your body feel the earth beneath you can be a real struggle sometimes and that was a good reminder in finding the freedom in feeling rather than ego in expectations. i'm looking forward to soaking up whatever i can from you in the time you have left here with us! :)

Sarah and Lydia said...

sarah and michelle.

thanks for your posts - great to hear that others are also enjoying the art of slowing down! In slowing down, not just our physical yoga practices but also in our lives, we can truly begin to know ourselves. And the practice of learning to know ourselves is ultimately the real yoga...i think??