Breath first, move second.
I’ve been practicing how to float. Now I’m super good at over doing it—at trying too hard. This is something I’m aware of. In a desperate attempt to “not do it wrong” I over do my teacher’s useful tips and instructions.
Luckily for me, he sees straight through me and is aware of my “over dong it” capabilities. Therefore, he is gentle with his words and picks them carefully, over emphasizing words like subtlety and softly. He often says, “And don’t over do it,” as he knows that I have not yet burned through that samsakra.
It was this same, wonderful teacher who pointed out that what we do on the mat is often what we do off the mat. Our attitudes and behaviors are exactly the same, and they way we do things in our lives is the same as the way we do them on our yoga mats.
Yet, yoga is a mirror and it’s supposed to reflect these things back to us so we can change them.
If we carry on bringing our samsakras to the mat and we carry on acting them out, we are just reinforcing them and not burning through them and making them dissipate.
So anyway, I have been practicing how to float. My teacher paused next to me, he didn’t watch—he listened.
“What was that?” he asked after I landed. I laughed, as I knew nothing gets passed him. I knew that his words are full of knowledge and that he has a way of making you see things more clearly.
“Tell me what you did.” he spoke softly. “I’m trying to lift my feet off the floor using the strength in my arms and float the feet back.”
“Ah, trying,” he repeated back to me. “What happened to your breath?”
“I’m not sure,” I replied.
“Do it again—and listen to your breath.”
I did it again, exactly the same. I realized I held my breath and as I lifted up I let out a small kind of grunt! I hadn’t even been aware of it before. I laughed again, slightly embarrassed, but also because I’ve learned it’s better to laugh at yourself rather than beat yourself with the “I didn’t do it right” stick.
Suddenly, the wise words waterfall started to fall upon me:
“The breath is what carries you through. The breath lifts you up and makes you light. The breath is the most important thing. So, why are you holding the breath? By holding the breath it makes you tense, and then as you exert your trying you let out that noise (he imitated my grunt) and that will never get you there. As you create tension in your body, your body becomes heavy—the exact opposite of what you want. You need to try less and breathe more. You need to take the try out of trying. Trying won’t get you where you want to go. It’s a common misconception but you need to see it and feel it and understand it in order for it to work.
Let go of trying. Stop trying. Don’t try.
Do it again and breathe.”
As with most of my yogic lessons, at first it seems crazy. How will I ever get there if I stop trying? Surely that’s just going backwards. How will less effort get me there? Surely common sense says that more effort will get you there. If I stop trying I may never get there.
Suddenly, I realized that all this is just my mind. My ego jabbering away to itself in my head. My mind trying to tell me that it knows best—it knows more than my teacher!
Yet, it doesn’t know.
The mind will always fight something that tries to defy it.
The mind will always fight methods and practices that begin to control it. That is why meditation is so hard at first. That is why yoga can be hard to practice. We are entering into a constant battle with our mind.
I told my mind to be quiet and accepted that my teacher was wise and knowledge (and normally always right) and that my tiny pea brain was just getting in the way.
I stopped trying. I took a step back. I started just stepping back one leg at a time and worked on my breath only. I paid attention to the flow of the breath. I let go of trying to float back. I let go of trying.
Slowly, I started to bring back the actions of beginning to float but paid attention to my breath. “Breath first, move second,” my new mantra played through my head.
As I repeated the actions but used the breath as my guide, as I stopped putting in all that extra, unnecessary effort, I felt my feet lift up off the floor. I watched as they softly floated back. It wasn’t as high as my enforced forced jump, but it was floating. And I hadn’t even tried!
I took the try out of trying and the ing alone took me there!
Stop being attached to the end result and come back to what we all know is the most important thing: but what is so easily forgotten when the trying gets in the way. The breath.
Breath first, move second.
Laura Grace is a rebel without a cause. Tired of numbing herself to life, she decided to give up all bad behaviours and start vibrating on a different frequency. She grabbed life with both hands and started living by the seat of her pants! Choosing to engage in life and fully be a part of the miracle that it is. She is busy practicing working with the law of attraction and manifesting everything that she wants. Living in Maui for 3 months she has proved to herself (and others) that you really can have anything if you keep believing in it. Find about more about her at ashtangayogadevon.co.uk or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Assistant Editor: Sara McKeown