Study for Meditation Mat

Study for Meditation Mat
Handspun Tapestry Weaving

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Cool Change: A Bit of Spring Cleaning

Saturday marked a full moon.  There's a shift in the air; temperatures are rising; snow is melting.  Spring is coming and already you can feel changes in the landscape.  People are in better humour, most of time, anyway. Animals are out and about on much missed walks. There are times in the day when we can throw open doors and windows and let light in as we begin to clean out the debris of winter.  Today feels like a spring cleaning post, a time to write again about things as they cycle down and things on their way back up.

Spring cleaning always involves a bit of a mess.  There's that pile of mismatched wintery stuff to be sorted there; lighter things stored away for months need to be washed, dusted, aired out. This has been my winter; the light is changing, revealing what can be discarded and what can be tucked away for now:

Winter reading, winter work: my coffee table contents!
 Let's begin here:
"The advanced student is not the one who moves deeply into the pose.  The advanced student is the one who recognizes and respects her limits." (Andrea Peloso)

Andrea made that comment at the end of the second weekend of our Restorative Yoga Training.  It had been an exhausting, sometimes frustrating practice for me.  This yogic style involves the use of many props-one pose used 6 bolsters as a base; another began with 11 blocks-so the work was physically challenging. The training contains emotional and psychological challenges: one must be able to listen attentively (not my strong suit!) in order to determine not only what the client/student wants in terms of comfort and safety, but also what she might need, which is not necessarily the same thing. I discovered that I would much rather be the person teaching and doing the supporting than the person being supported.

I had to leave the studio early on a couple of occasions, partly due to fatigue, but primarily due to the fact that I was overwhelmed by too many people, loving and kind as they all were, touching me.  I've had a lot of hands on experiences these past few months as I recover from surgery, so both my body and mind are on overload.  When things became too much, I headed home; when that didn't provide sufficient space, I decided that there would be no more physical contact on the last day.  I spent Sunday as an observer and discovered that it was exactly the right thing to do; by day's end, I was tired, but feeling much more, well, restored.  As we were saying our goodbyes, Andrea quietly offered me the remark on "advanced students," food for thought, to be taken as I wished. It was a reminder to be kind to myself, in the way I attempt to be with my students.

Part of the certification process in Restorative Yoga (which is way down the road for me) is to keep a daily 6 week journal of your own Restorative practice, including what poses you have chosen and your experiences in those poses.  I began last week and discovered a few things:

  • Restorative Yoga is not simply about relaxing (although deep relaxation is where we're headed). I spent most of my week practising Supported Savasana and Side-Lying Savasana, neither one of which resembles the hours of Couchitapotatastasana I have been practising lately.
  • Strange things really do happen when you stay in a Restorative pose for at least 20 minutes.
  • Restorative Yoga practice requires practise.  I experimented a bit with Restorative poses with my Advanced Yoga and Beginning Yoga students, several of whom (mostly in the advanced class) commented, "Who knew 20 minutes could seem so long!?"  No one relaxes just because someone tells them to do so, let alone relaxes deeply, so if you want to try Restorative Yoga, expect to meet some resistance from your body and your mind.  It is very, very difficult to let go and just Be.
  • Everyone needs to Let Go and Just Be.  Every day, several times a day. 

Letting go also involves returning to another passion: my fibre work.  I've been so busy with teacher training and teaching yoga that I can't remember the last time I knit. I've barely worked on my tapestry weaving and the only time I spin is in medical waiting rooms.  Fibre art is therapy, too, so I spent some time last week with a bag of Noro yarn and my needles. I'll give you a sneak peek of my latest project, but only that, because, if I show you the entire garment, you'll be able to knit it from the photograph-it's that simple-which would deprive me of the pleasure of writing out the pattern and posting it later (probably):

The colours of this piece are summer flower perfect, bright, bold, beautiful, with just a few earthy tones thrown in for contrast and a reminder of what keeps us grounded, of what is to come.  The next one, the one I'll knit to track the pattern, will be made from a yarn with more green, more spring-like colours, a representation of what is Now.  

So, there it is, a bit of exposure to the light, a bit of tidying up, a gentle poking around the edges and smoothing out the rough spots as the seasons shift and time rings the changes. It feels good.


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