Stretching tells you the truth
This Ashtanga Yoga Practice is a family practice. That means we hold jobs, have a family, raise kids, celebrate birthdays, weddings, and holidays, we have friends. We are not yogi’s in a cave or in the forrest begging for rice. Ashtanga students practice in, and of this world.
“Stretching tells you the truth” - JL
Maybe it’s that the practice attracts a certain type of individual. Maybe I’m simply pointing the finger at myself, but this practice shows you the truth. Stretching shows you what is possible and what is locked away. It's the uncovering that we often have a difficult time with. Many can’t look that intensely at ourselves without flinching, without running away. Because when we do look that intently at ourselves, we often don’t like what we see. The truth.
We practice this yoga for ourselves, for a connection to our core, and that ripples out effecting everyone we come into contact with. Everyone we are in a relationship with.
A relationship involves two individuals. Individuals looking at their truth.
A relationship requires two healthy and happy individuals. Read it again with a period after each word so it sinks in.
This assumes both individuals are healthy. Spiritually healthy.
Individuals. Not codependents.
Admittedly, I haven’t always been happy, or in healthy relationship, or known how to exist independently. I didn't know how unhappy I was. I didn't know myself. I didn't have a practice that developed an awareness of my truth. The Ashtanga Yoga Practice over time became a spiritual practice for me and reflected this truth back to me. A spiritual practice is a personal connection to an awareness of your core self.
sah tu dirgha kala nairantaira satkara asevitah dridha bhumih Sutra1.14 (When that practice is done for a long time, without a break, and with sincere devotion, then the practice becomes a firmly rooted, stable and solid foundation.)
The reason we are told to practice for many years is because the truth continues to evolve. Our truth is always changing. Evolving who we are. Showing us the root of who we are. The longer you are in a relationship the more this truth comes to light. The truth about who and what your foundation is.
The longest relationship I’ve been in is with my yoga mat. It’s been quite the rollercoaster. Fear, Doubt, Ego, those guys are passengers on this train with me as we travel the loops, the climbs, the drop, the nausea, dysuria, and hypoxia. The longer I stay on this train I begin to realize that nausea is a passing game my stomach plays with me when I begin learning a new asana. You learn to ride the waves. Stability is coming.
Practice long enough and we begin to uncover things about ourselves. Sometimes there are some pretty ugly things inside. Somethings we don’t want others to find. Some things we wish we never uncovered. Sometimes we want to run away, quit. Many do.
The practice asks us to do some pretty awful looking and feeling things. It’s the cause of my nausea a lot of times. But feelings change. Sometimes they get to be a little less awful, a little more digestible. Those awful looking things, they become Instagrams that get ‘likes.’
Long after the feeling that made the commitment to practice has faded. Who is left? What is left?
I started practicing yoga after I failed my first marriage.
I didn’t know who I was, or what I was doing. I had lost myself in the identity of this marriage, and being lost, I didn’t believe in myself. I didn’t know how. When the dust from it had settled, I had walled myself out of Morgan. I locked that guy up and swallowed the key. I didn't know how to handle that mess.
A year later after running 2 half-marathons, a number of 5&10K's and more miles than I had ever thought possible, I went to a yoga class.
Kino McGregor talked about staying in a fire and burning up almond seeds until they were ash. And that was it. Something clicked and I wanted in. I wanted to get back to me. I was done running from myself.
I wanted to transform the pain that I was running from. I wanted to understand it. Figure out Morgan. I didn't know what it meant to stay in a flame, and burn yourself up. I had no clue she was talking about a spiritual practice. I thought I was gearing up for a daily marathon on my mat.
I decided that this practice was going to show me the key. Actually, I was naive enough at the time to believe that this practice WAS the key. (So that you know, it’s not.)
If the practice is anything, it is a metaphor for life. A guide; How to Live an Extraordinary Life. It teaches us about stability, in all aspects of our lives. With steady devotion and integrity, the practice teaches us about our relationship with ourselves and ultimately with those really really really important people in our lives. Those people who reflect our truth back to us.
If it wasn't at the start, it becomes a spiritual practice. A practice to understand who we are inside and aside from all the things we collected on the way. A practice to connect you to your emotional and intellectual core. The core that was created by and connected to the Universal Source.* From a place of connection to your core, knowing your self, you open up to loving deeper.
“If your relationship with your partner is not sacred, if it is not spiritual practice, than how can you say your yoga practice (which is relatively easy) is sacred or spiritual?” - Angela Jamison
Spirituality can be found in running, climbing, surfing, or playing with your kids. It is not limited to the space of a yoga mat. If there is awareness, done with consistency, it helps you take a deeper look at who you are.
Your partner will reflect back to you habits and layers. They will reflect back to you an awareness of your core self, and it will probably shake you at the core. And you will shake them at their core too.
Remember, BOTH individuals ought to be doing a spiritual practice. Careful not to judge or limit your partners practice, whatever their practice is. You would only be limiting yourself and adding another veil, or layer onto your already clouded core. That practice is between them and their core. NO JUDGING.
After some time with this spiritual practice of Ashtanga Yoga we feel a need to go deeper. A calling to Mysore, India to practice with our teacher's teacher, at the source. But this pulls at two relationships. A relationship with our core, and our relationship with our family/partners/friends. More stretching.
So how do relationships survive the months apart from each other? I'm not sure I have any advice or prescription for that. It will put a HUGE strain on the relationship. It won't feel right, and it won't feel easy. It needs to be a decision that you BOTH decide on.
For the RX I"m going to defer to Angela Jamison who has 9 trips to Mysore under her belt (plus one more this winter), and 21 years of conscoius relationship.
Make sure, week by week and year by year, that you practice in a way that makes your partner esteem you. That your practice makes you more respectful, more honest, more yourself. If your practice makes you more narcissistic, more avoidant, less loving, more compulsive, then it is your partner who will know it. If they are an honest partner - not simply someone who wants to own you or control you - then they can reflect the truth back to you. And if the truth they reflect is that your practice is making you more self-centered, you’re doing it wrong and running off to India will just take you further into delusion
*Imperfect Spirituality: Extraordinary Enlightenment for Ordinary People, Polly Campbell