A hatha yoga practice flowers from the inside out. It is never about how it looks from the outside in. Life itself grows from within. We often get caught up into thinking that the source of love we all want to experience is somewhere outside. So we push and pull at the moment, wanting to be somewhere else. All the while, the fullness of love we wish to find has been quietly waiting for our fluttering minds to grow quiet. In stillness, we see that love is like a seed inside our soul, patiently waiting for our attention and devoted heart for it to emerge and flower.
Spring emerges. Flowers in the garden are not looking over at the other flowers wanting to be like them. Each flower is its own natural self. Each flower is unique in the garden, blooming in its own time, in its own way, in harmonious balance with nature.
We tend to either push our practice or run from it. Forcing or laziness during our practice comes from vritti, the agitated fluctuations of the mind that are fed by our ego. These come from a disconnected state, not from our sense of being an integral part, within an intelligent whole, which is the root of yoga.
Pushing at our practice or running from it is simply a reflection of our relationship to our thoughts and ultimately, ourselves. We tend to run from or try to grab onto this moment, rather than meet it as it is. We can run from our magnificence, or doubt it and try to push it into being. Yet nature does not push or pull, but emerges, in a powerful balanced state within the whole.
Our yoga practice is about the return to this balanced state within the whole of being in each moment. Our practice on the yoga mat ultimately is geared to cultivate that state of mind in each moment throughout our daily life. In this way, yoga is emblematic of the lotus flower that emerges from the mud, effortless beauty in the midst of the crazy fullness of all of life.
To bring your mat yoga practice alive, cultivate the practice of being present with exactly what you find as you meet that forward bend, or that downward dog. Meet your body with respect and kindness, as you would a flower. You would not lean over a flower and expect it to be more bendy, or vibrant. You would accept and witness it as it is and breathe in its full presence.
If your body feels tight, rather than trying to stretch, meet the tension with kindness and acceptance. There is no nirvana wanting for you at the end of that stretch. That is an illusion that many fall into. The more stretched we get, the more bendy we are, but are we happier and more fulfilled spiritually?
Wanting to stretch brings us back to the same push/pull dynamic. Thought a great stretch can feel liberating, if the stretch is animated by wanting and push/pull, tension will eventually arise as a result of that action. When we meet the body as it is and allow it to flower, the tissues in our muscles literally soften and the body naturally unfolds. All we had to do was show up, open, ready and willing to meet the moment exactly as it is.
Allow your practice to be a blossoming of body/being, inspired by flowers. May it find you opening to the fullness of this moment and welcoming the beauty of spring, that is a reflection of your true flowering nature.
Parvati Devi is the editor-in-chief of Parvati Magazine. In addition to being an internationally acclaimed Canadian singer, songwriter, producer and performer, she is a yoga teacher and holistic educator, having studied yoga and meditation since 1987, and developed her own yoga teaching style called YEM™: Yoga as Energy Medicine. Her current show, “Natamba”, brings forward a conscious energy into the pop mainstream.