Yoga: Beginning Every Moment, by Lisa Kitteringham
Life is not so much about beginnings and endings as it is about going on and on and on. It is about muddling through the middle.- Anna Quindlen
Beginning a yoga practice is exciting, and every class brings something new to our awareness. As we progress in our practice, the excitement of newness can fade and be replaced with boredom or a sense of ‘checking out’. Flows become habitual and alignment becomes automatic, so we may disconnect from the present moment and think about our never-ending To-Do list even as we breathe and move in rhythm.
A yoga practice is a quest for balance, and the building of a habit of practice is the same. Creating a habit of everyday practice has remarkable benefits for our mental and physical health, but having a yoga practice that becomes so habitual that we no longer need to engage and think about it will lose its meaning and benefit, and become merely exercise.
Instead, how can we bring that sense of reverence that is present when we begin something new to every moment of our practice? This is the real work of yoga: being present allows us to see sparkle in every repetition of familiar movement, and constant exploration gives us the opportunity to find something new in every moment. Our body is not the same from moment to moment or day to day, and tuning in to whatever is currently happening in our body can allow us to become present in every breath.
Try this exercise: next time you come to your mat, start with a body scan. Instead of changing anything about your body intentionally, just notice where you are in the moment. Where are you holding onto tension? Where do you feel movement from your breath? What feels open and relaxed? What is your emotional state? Is your mind racing in circles or is it focused?
In yoga class we often focus on intention and change, but we skip the step of beginning where we are. Without this awareness, we are holding a map and deciding on a destination without knowing where we stand in relation to it. Understanding where we are emotionally, mentally and physically allows us to establish a starting place that will be different every day. This makes our practice forever new, and we begin again every time we step on our mat.
In her 13 years of practice and 5 years of teaching, Lisa Kitteringham has integrated her love of dance and yoga to create flowing meditation sequences that allow each student to increase their body awareness and ground their practice in a steady rhythm of breath. She is inspired every day by the moments of discovery in the minds and bodies of her students and by the moments of stillness she experiences in her own practice.