May 16, 2011

Working Outside Our Borders–in Art and in Yoga. ~ Lisa Wilson

I am not a morning person.

Photo: Lisa Wilson

The thud as my yoga mat hits the floor this morning is a shock to my foggy mind. Early morning is the only time I’m going to get on this mat. I know that. But my body doesn’t care and my mind is starting to agree.

Four lines outlining this dreaded rectangle. I step onto it and I’m on my mat – I am “doing yoga”. Being gentle with myself as my mind wanders and I flop into a pose while forgetting my core, I am none-the-less here and practicing (ok – sort of). I can’t help but wonder, though, what am I actually doing on this mat?

When I stop off of this rectangle (and after a series of frantic get-‘em-out-the-door-and-on-the-bus routines), I will go do my art.

I will lay out another rectangle and apply my paints to it. When artists “do” our art, we work with a medium. Some will find a blob of clay and find within it the shape they desire. Some work with energetic waves of music, some through the lens of a camera, some with curving, powerful lines of the body. These media with which the artists work, whether they be paper, clay, letters of the alphabet, or lines of the body are the defining features – the borders – of the art form.

The yoga mat and the artist’s medium both have clear lines that help us to define the practice as well as have it be recognizable to others.

The problem comes when we believe that yoga or art or any practice exists only within those lines…and when we believe everything within those lines is always the practice.

If I believe that simply being on my mat or painting lines – no matter how technically skilled I may appear – makes me a yogini or an artist, I will surely find myself becoming bored and the practice quite dry. It may appear pretty or impressive to someone else but the lines don’t contain the essence of the practice.

On the other hand, if I believe that my yoga or art practice stops once I am outside the borders of the yoga mat or off the confines of the page, I will miss out on that essence and the vitality of the practice.

Beyond The Border

Borders help us define and experience the world around us. They help us to do the practice. Yet in order to embody and truly receive anything from the practice, we must go beyond the borders. We must be and live the practice.

Title: The Breath of Emotions Image Copyright: Lisa Wilson; Information: http://lifeunity.squarespace.com/blog/the-breath-of-emotion.html

As we work with our awareness outside of our borders, we realize that our practice is not only our yoga, or our art – or our job or our religious practice or our practice as parents or citizens – our life is our practice. We take the same lessons we work with on the yoga mat out into our mundane existence.

Everyone has borders – ways of seeing and defining the world. These borders help people to function and survive. Whether someone draws their lines on a yoga mat, through paint or pencils, around Republican beliefs or Democratic, sketching God as a male figure in the heavens or simply leaving the page blank, we must remember not to judge another’s yoga mat (nor belief system). They are simply there to help us function.

Everyone also has the capability to expand beyond their borders. But you wouldn’t step onto a fellow practioner’s yoga mat and shove them off to get them to experience yoga off the mat. (Or you might. Just remind me not to practice next to you.) You can’t force anyone outside of their own borders off the mat either.

Title: Metamorphosis; Image Copyright: Lisa Wilson; Information: http://lifeunity.squarespace.com/blog/metamorphosis.html

Take responsibility for yourself.  Today, play. Play with those borders you have in your own life. Try doing a modified tree pose at the gas pump or using your finger to paint your ketchup onto your sandwich. Play with the awareness of the essence of your practice – your job, your yoga, your art, your life.

As for my practice?

I’m going back to bed.


Lisa is an iced-chai-addicted, yoga-teaching (mostly to herself), self-centered Midwestern mommy whose fascination with and exploration of life often means she forgets to cook dinner and switch the laundry.

A self-defined “Awareness-Artist”, Lisa shares her stories, art, and practical wisdom with the world at http://www.LifeUnity.com, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/lifeunity and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/lifeunity.  (No wonder she doesn’t have time to do laundry.)

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