in the yoga world we throw a lot of words around that may (or may not) make sense to non-yogis. and as teachers, our words matter. a lot. we must be clear, explain things. we must also have a solid practice in which to draw from. i am much more dedicated to my practice than i used to be. i am more interested in it – understanding how my body is working at a deeper level.
this weekend’s ytt intensive was awe-inspiring, as usual. we started the last weekend at the feet and have been following pathways of movement and energy up the legs. we explored the hips and pelvis. each toe correlates to specific, anatomical places within the pelvic girdle! why did i never know this before? you can actually feel each of the articulations. though subtle; though it takes attention and intention, i can feel all of the relationships between these body parts.
how am i going to teach this to beginners, i thought. i never would have understood these nuances in the beginning of my years of practice. i was more concerned with learning the poses themselves, how to breathe, remembering to breathe.
A BEGINNER’S MIND; it all starts with a beginners mind.
how do i do that? awareness, i thought. then as i was pondering the focus of my class this morning, the difference between mindfulness and awareness occurred to me. how are they different? the same? is there overlap? what do i want my students to experience? how can i direct their practice to a place of awareness?
mindfulness, to me, is about being aware of my THOUGHTS.
awareness, however, relates more to my BODY.
for years i taught a mindful approach to yoga. notice thoughts. try not to judge them, but use the breath to bring the body back to present moment.
during all of this time, i was so disembodied it was scary. i was constantly bumping up against the mental way i envisioned yoga, the descriptions from philosophy about what yoga was about.
yet what i was practicing and teaching didn’t feel like yoga. it didn’t feel like a workout either. i was focusing on my breath. but i wasn’t FEELING it. i needed something else from my practice. i became bored with it. i started to question everything. what am i doing? i thought.
i began talking to my students about their habits – how they habitually hold their bodies without recognizing the patterns; the habitual ways they use their minds. it was a start. my teaching at least began to feel useful.
fast forward to the end of last year, i accidentally stumbled upon the practice of somatic meditation. where has this been all my life? seriously. where has this practice been? in all those years i could never stop my mind. it was frustrating. no wonder. i was working WITH the mind AT THE LEVEL of the mind.
but being in the soma doesn’t allow us to be in our left brains. THANK GOD. i need a break! it is refreshing. i am finally starting to feel at hOMe in my body, and in my mind.
somehow, also by accident i found embodiYoga. i am practicing. i am deepening my awareness. i am re-thinking my teaching. and i feel like this awareness is the gateway to mindfulness.
using this information, i’m educating my students using what i’m learning and internalizing; i’m helping them understand the difference between awareness and mindfulness. i’m bringing their attention to nuances in their bodies instead of focusing on how much of a bitch the brain is. i hope it translates.
it is important work and i feel blessed to be a vehicle for self-discovery.