“What do you want to experience in your body today?”
Mara Harris opened her class on Wednesday afternoon with this simple, direct question that was both engaging and unexpected. Many instructors will ask their students if there’s a specific pose or a part of the body they want to focus on and practice that day. While there’s definitely a place for those questions, personally, I always feel overwhelmed by all the possible answers. This is usually what happens in my head when an instructor asks for requests:
How do I feel right now? Fine. But wait, I felt something yesterday, I was sore somewhere, I think it was my lower back. Oh! my glutes are sore… what did I do to my glutes? There was this one pose I learned last week that was really cool, what was it called? I think the instructor only said the Sanskrit name, something -asana, my feet were in some funky position but it felt so good in my hips and thighs…
By this time, a more decisive student will definitely have called out that they’d like to work on shoulders and I do my best to shut down my spiraling self-investigation. But Mara’s question managed to bypass that quagmire of reflecting on past experiences and brought my focus into the present: how I felt that moment and what I wanted to feel in the next moment.
Freedom. Freedom from pain and stiffness. Ease.
That was all that passed through my mind and even though I didn’t voice my thoughts to the rest of the room, they remained within me during my practice. True to the vinyasa style, Mara’s class flowed. It was dynamic. She led us through familiar poses in an unfamiliar way, moving and breathing within and between them. In low lunge we shifted from stretching down the heel of the back leg to coming onto the toes, back and forth, back and forth. Inhale, exhale.
It was like doing yoga in a river, it pushed you along. Even though I knew I could swim outside the current and rest in child’s pose, I let myself be borne away downstream, trusting that she would guide us over the falls and into slower, deeper waters when the time was right. And she did. At the end of class, we had all arrived, floating on the surface of the smooth lake of Savasana. Peaceful and at ease. I wish the same to all of you.