Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Yeah, I mean it

- How many Anusara yogis does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

- One to demo and 99 to clap.*
The demo is one of my favorite parts of the Anusara practice. I love that moment when someone is called on to demonstrate a pose, generally saying Yes before knowing what the pose is going to be. I love watching the pose unfold, and the way the whole class appreciates the student in the pose, ooh'ing and aah'ing, and then the applause when the pose is complete. I suppose what I love really is the way that the person demo'ing gets to shine, has the entire attention of the class, and then is celebrated communally for their effort and expression. We genuinely cheer each other on. That's so super-sweet.

That general climate of appreciation extends beyond the demo and pervades the whole class. The teacher calls out praise in particular poses, and we compliment each other as well. "Nice handstand, Brian!" or "You rocked that, Nancy!" It's always 100% genuine, and makes it so much fun, like we're on the playground practicing new tricks, egging each other on. It just gets better and better all the time.

I've grown accustomed to compliments, to being praised, to hearing my name at some point in the class -- it's such a great feeling to be seen in this way, that the teacher or a classmate saw what I was doing and called it out. Maybe that's a little childish, but really who doesn't like the feeling of doing something well, with commitment, and being noticed? It's such powerful reinforcement -- progress on the spiritual path takes discipline and devotion, encouraging each other makes the progress easier. And bottom line: so much more fun.

Tonight in parsvakonasana, which is a challenging pose for me, I was working all of the principles, really focused on integrating the instructions, growing the pose. I felt good, the pose felt powerful. And then I heard Laura say from across the room, "Good, Ariananda: I can see that you mean it." And right away I felt even stronger, happier and bigger.

Because yeah, I mean it.

Those words went straight in, deep, and I'm still thinking about them, thinking about how important it is to mean it, all the time, whether you're on the mat or not. In class, Meaning It has a science: open to something bigger, fingerpads and four corners of the feet down, muscle energy, armpits lifted, thighs in, back and apart, tailbone down, organic extension. If you work the principles, everything gets easier. With practice, poses which were out-of-reach inch closer and closer 'til you stick them.

But Meaning It all the time, even off the mat, that's something else, isn't it, something for which the yoga practice is precisely just practice. Those hours of practice pay off, though, all that time stretching to new lengths, trying new things, working through challenge, encouraging each other, appreciating what's beautiful in each classmate. It requires the same discipline to carry that devotion off the mat and into the office and elsewhere, but that's where it's needed. Isn't that the whole point?

So yeah, I mean it. I mean it everywhere. So nice to have all those other yogis clapping - makes it so much easier to mean it every minute, all the time.

* Gratitude to my beautiful little sister Martine for telling me this joke. It still makes me laugh.

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