I go to Yoga because it weaves the physical, emotional, and spiritual parts of me together. I go to Caitlin Marcoux‘ classes because she helps me pray.
Some days, I am eager to hit the mat. Some days, I reluctantly drag my yoga-clad body to class with a vague feeling, “I’ll feel better after” that just slightly outweighs the desire not to attend.
Last Tuesday, I raced into The Yoga Room*, leaving my co-dependent dog howling in the car (should I be taking him for a walk instead?), guilty about leaving work at 5 pm sharp (there is so much to do there, should I stay longer?), anxious about not having voted (if I don’t go to class I can vote AND walk the dog), and sure I could practice at home (it’s an option; I just never do it.)
But I went.
My practice is stronger than it’s ever been but I’m regularly reminded of the weaknesses in my body (often signaled by my rogue laugh that escapes when my body doesn’t perform the way I expect it will).
I’ve accepted that my neck and shoulders are my weak link and that I’ll probably never do a headstand or handstand.
I’ve accepted that I’m a bit lazy and don’t take the regular time to strengthen my core, which would help my neck and shoulder.
I’ve also accepted that Yoga unites my body, mind, and spirit. At its root, the word “Yoga” is similar to “yoke”, for that reason.
I’m getting Steadier. Stronger. Clearer.
And much of it is due to Caitlin.
Photo by Katie Kaizer*. Caitlin giving me one of many necessary Delicious adjustments.
We all have guides and teachers in our lives for a sentence, a chapters, or even a whole book. Caitlin is one of mine. I returned to yoga several months ago with regular commitment and was surprised how yoga offered what I was craving. Stillness. Release. Strength. Clarity. Unity. Community.
Some days I want to feel reverence. Reverence for my body. For its potential. For this life. For our connection. For possibilities. For reality.
My body is now familiar enough with most of the poses so I can focus on adjustments and using all of my body. It’s like learning how to drive a manual transmission car. At first, just getting the car to move smoothly took all my focus. Then the basics become second nature, and the focus becomes maximizing the cars potential by using the potential of each gear. Now I notice subtle changes I can make.
- Is my back really flat?
- Am I lifting my body with slightly bent knees to take the pressure off my lower back?
- Is my stomach engaged before I lift other parts of my body, so I don’t compensate with my neck and shoulders?
- Are my hips level?
- Can I release the torque in my neck?
- Am I distributing the weight of my body through my fingers and not just my wrists?
As we move through the class, I notice I’ve long since let go of the day’s frustrations in mix of breath, guided motion and emotions that pass through. The dog? We’ll walk later. Work? It’ll be there tomorrow. Voting? I can shoot in right after class. The class culminates as Caitlin explains Bhavana.
Development. Cultivating. Producing. Calling into existence. The offering of our body as a prayer.
She leads us in a short Reverse Prayer sequence and tells us to move at the speed of our own breath. Use our body to pray. Offer it up to someone who needs a whole body prayer.
For several minutes, I lose myself in the flow of breath and body. The beginning and the end is a low lunge with our hands raised above our heads, and I arch my back and pray.
Having offered our bodies, we finish class, roll up our mats and go into the rest of our day, fully yoked.
Photo by Robert Sturman**. Reverse Prayer, demonstrated by Caitlin Marcoux.
For More Information:
* Photography: Katie Kaizer’s SITE (Nantucket Photographer)
** Photography: Robert Sturman’s SITE (Yoga Photographer)
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