When I was teaching yoga, I would often incorporate a section into the class where I’d encourage students to just flow in the way that felt right for them. They didn’t have to follow a sequence, it didn’t even have to be a pose they knew, they just had to move in the way that their body guided them. I’d invite them to close their eyes if that helped them.
It was wonderful to watch. Some people were instantly at ease and would let their bodies be fluid and unrestricted. Some people would seem awkward at first but then they’d really get into it, making long, sweeping, intuitive movements. Others would lay low, hugging their knees to them, seeming vulnerable and raw.
I’d tell them there was no right, no wrong, just whatever came up.
I was teaching the class but I was learning so much more.
There is no one way to live this life. There is no one belief system. @SkylarLiberty
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There is opportunity to learn. There is room to grow.
When I get on my yoga mat at home, I invite my body to speak to me. And when it does (and it always does), I listen. I don’t try and talk over it. I don’t ask it to be different.
I start by sitting (or laying down) and I close my eyes. I tune in. I pay attention. I find out what’s going on inside. Where it matters. I search to see if there is sadness. Heaviness. If there’s happiness or playfulness. Then, only then, I move and I stretch. I reach high or I dip low. I let my body decide what it’s needs are.
This is how I practice yoga.
I don’t believe something to be true just because I’m told that it is. I believe something to be true when I feel that it is. When the weight of the words that I hear or read resonate in my heart and mind. The same applies to my time on the mat. What if I don’t want to bend it like Bikram? What if Jivamukti doesn’t jive with me?
My practice is my time to honour my needs. It’s a time to re-energise and restore. It’s so much more than a series of poses.
I’m terrible at attempting inversions and I practically collapse in chaturanga. I struggle in Warrior 3 and I’m only good at binds because my arms are long.
I don’t know how to do crow pose but I do know how to encourage others to empower themselves and live their own, wonderful, colourful, unique, messy, flawed, marvellous lives. That, I do know. And I know because I am living mine.
My time on the mat is a metaphor for my life off the mat. I don’t compare myself to anyone else. I never tell myself I ‘should’ be able to do anything other than what I’m actually doing. I free flow. Sometimes I feel strong and steady and sometimes I just want to get in child’s pose and let the tears come.
I’m not interested in worrying about the precise alignment of Trikonasana. I’m interested in expressing who I actually am.
When did you last listen to your body? When did you last ask your amazing body how you could honour it’s needs?
Sometimes we get so caught up in our crazy, busy lives that we forget to just be. Someone once said to me, ‘We are human beings, not human doings’ and I remember thinking ‘When did we lose sight of the beauty of being?’
I often hear people say that they don’t ‘do’ yoga because they aren’t flexible enough, or they aren’t ‘something’ enough. The yogi response to these statements is always ‘If you can breathe, then you can practice yoga’.
You don’t ‘do’ yoga. It’s a union of body and breath. It’s the joining together of mind, body and soul.
If you’ve never practiced yoga before (or if you have and you want to try a new approach), see how the following feels for you:
Sit or lay down. Be comfortable.
What is your body saying to you today? (Not what it said yesterday, not what you’d like it to say tomorrow – what is it saying today. Right now).
Listen. Really listen.
Where in your body are your feelings being felt? Do they have a colour? A texture? A shape? If you had to draw them or paint them, what would they look like?
Can you find that place within you where things move with ease?
Can you send your breath to that place within you where things feel stuck?
Consider how you might soften your limits rather than push against them.
Ask yourself, ‘What can I release today? What baggage can I set down?’
Remind yourself that each breath is an opportunity. An opportunity to begin again.
Move with intention.
Move without self doubt or self judgement.
Move without ‘should’.
Move with love.
(aka the awesomely unique flawed spirit in me recognises and honours the awesomely unique flawed spirit in you – and loves you just as you are).
Skylar Liberty Rose is a writer and an empowerment warrior. She is the creator of Fierce Females which she established as a way of celebrating the female spirit and to encourage women to live to their full potential, rather than playing small. Having found her own freedom by releasing limiting beliefs, Skylar seeks to provide others with tools they can use to empower themselves. She is also the creator of the #15SecondMantra Series. Skylar is an advocate of stripping away layers of conditioning and instead discovering the unique truth within. Creativity is her meditation. She is inspired by courageous hearts and creative souls. She grew up in London and now lives in New York City with her husband. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and her blog.
If you’d like a shot of fierce in your life or you know a sister that does, take a look at Skylar’s unique range of Fierce Female merchandise here. Get your roar on!