April 16, 2012

Six Yoga Lessons from a Window. ~ Linda Maria Sperl

Photo credit: Linda Sperl

Early last evening, as the light of the day began to fall away, a window told me secrets.

Yes, that is right. Those beautiful lessons that are learned on the mat are meant to be taken with us off the mat. Does that surprise you? Granted, they were not the kinds of secrets I had never heard of before. I had. And, I am certain, so have you. It is just that the brain chooses to forget them every so often, until once again, in the freshness of spring, they become a revived revelation.

It was just twenty four hours ago that I sat there, the work of the day completed, thinking about how to proceed into my evening. That useless word came up. I was bored.

Suddenly, a subtle shift in the light caught my attention and slowly guided my eyes to the window. I tilted my head and looked at it curiously. Something held my gaze there. No, there was nothing visually unusual. Yet…I was pulled in. A small shift had occurred. The curtains sighed softly. I was intrigued. I rose from the chair, moved the curtain back with my hand and peered outside. Nothing. I let go and allowed the curtain to fall gently into its normal groove. It relaxed back into its natural shape. After all, it was just a window. Or was it? I decided to do what I had learned to do when I was on my mat. I got curious.

My yoga practice has taught me a thing or two about living, and if there is one recurring theme, it is that every moment is an opportunity to return to a beginner’s mind.

When I began my study of the window, all I really saw was just that—a window. Square, with plain glass, a screen, and a curtain. The same window I have been looking at for years. I went and retrieved my camera and opened my creative channels. The window became my ‘off the mat’ laboratory for the evening. I began to shoot photos and allowed my eyes to examine the window more closely and in depth.

I began my ujjayi breathing and here were six things my window opened me to re-discover about beginner’s mind and my practice:

1. Get curious: Nothing is boring. Even a window! Every day, stone, and situation is filled with tremendous truth and beauty. Every yoga practice offers a different lesson, only if the opportunity to notice is taken. Look around. Examine closely. Boredom is a choice, not something that happens to us. Become curious about the seemingly disinteresting aspects of life. Begin with a window, door, weed, chair, or chore.

What appears to be the ‘same ol’ stuff’, a repetition of yesterday’s routine, is actually a new revelation waiting to be recognized and acknowledged. Do you find yourself yawning in an absentminded state when you practice a particularly ‘simple’ pose because you are eager to get to the challenging yoga poses? Do you call warm-up postures ‘stretches’ because it is not ‘real’ yoga? Delve into that one ‘easy’ yoga posture uber-consciously. Follow it all and see where the voyage takes you. Journal about it. What did you find? Inhale.

2. Find a different perspective: I started out taking these window photos looking straight on, and then thought—why? I got crazy silly with my camera and lay on the floor looking up, stood in tree pose peering through a side angle, and snapped pictures facing backwards. I smiled to myself, amused that I could suddenly find a simple opening in a wall this interesting and amazing! I looked at the window again and tended to its nuances. Standing up in mountain pose, I focused on different aspects of the posture—feet, legs, arms, pelvis, shoulders, and head.

Every part of the body told a different story and carried a separate, emotional energy. If a window could display so many different sides of its personality, imagine the diverse colors of an idea, problem, pose or person! Select an issue or pose you have been working with and bring life to its various voices. What different languages are you hearing? Often, there is another way. Taste the unique ingredients of your options and allow them to simmer. Ponder. Exhale.

Photo credit: Linda Sperl

3. Bring light to the darkness: As the night became darker, so did the window. I placed a candle on the window sill and the glow from it cast a sweet, soft illumination. The darkness was still there, but it was mellower and softer now. Think about life’s darkness. Challenging, but all part of living, really. The ink-black window showed that adding a hue of light to it can offer ease in difficult, dark roads that may lie ahead.

Get on the mat, close the eyes and go in and in towards the darkness. Bring the hands together in anjali mudra. Continue to breathe. The voice of the light is buried deep inside the heart, waiting for you to arrive. Use the candle to light your way. Inhale.

4. Connect with nature: Why look at the window only from the inside? Why be chained to the inner workings of the monkey mind? The practice of yoga encourages a reunion with nature. Especially in the season of spring. I took my camera and went outside. Looking up, there it was. The window. So different out here. Not at all like the view from the inside, but it gave me an opportunity to see the window while standing in earth’s tapestry. The gracious invitation to view the window (substitute—problem, person, relationship, or practice) as a link to a connection that is greater than me was a relief. No longer trenched down in a small room, the earth hugged and healed me. The dew of the grass, the whisper of a spring breeze, the sage words of a window, “It is time. Get outside and feel nature’s grace. Look up at the moon.” Take a deep exhale. Feel the connection.

5. Be transparent: I went back inside. I took down the curtains and pulled up the blinds. No more hiding! Illuminating our truth lets out so much light. And brings magnitudes of it in. It takes nerve and strength. The fear? It may still be there, but proceed. A dose or two of faith does not hurt either. I return to my mat. I breathe and listen for my mat’s invitation to practice satya—truthfulness. What have I been hiding from myself, from others? And you? Get clear and open. Unclog the closings. Remove the masks slowly. Be honest. Inhale deeply.

6. Trust: My trust rock. I place it by the window. I place my camera down and turn to my mat again to continue. I am ready to listen to my body again. In every posture, the window sits there quietly, and watches over me. I glance at that window every so often. It shares the secrets that I already know. When I believe and listen hard enough, it shows me what to step back from and what to step into. I let it all go. Trust. Fold. And exhale deeply.

Linda Maria Sperl is a yoga practitioner who believes in the deep, healing powers of women’s intuition, yoga, writing, and the moon. She has recently dipped her toes into yoga instruction and teaches a gentle, meditative, yoga flow class. Linda Maria is deeply grateful for the practices of yoga and writing and the enriching experiences they have given her in life. She lives by a beach in New York with her amazing hubby Rich and Sophie, her sweet little cocker spaniel.


Prepared by Soumyajeet Chattaraj/Edited by Tanya L. Markul

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