Last summer, when all of my typical plans were turned on their head due to the pandemic, I threw myself into teaching yoga. I was teaching double the number of classes I normally teach - outside, online and in studio. I fell into a groove.
While reading Peter Sterios's book, Gravity and Grace, I realized that groove had become a rut, and I had let my own yoga practice take a back seat to teaching.
When we get into a rhythm we feel "flow", but in that state part of our mind goes dormant. Sterios says that "during these times lies a great potential for growth. Overturning the decay of an old way of doing or seeing something lays the groundwork for what lies ahead of or within us."
This summer, I significantly reduced my schedule of regular yoga classes, and started teaching primarily on the water with Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) Yoga. Doing so has allowed me to reconnect to what I love about the practice, and about teaching yoga.
When we advance in our yoga practice, it becomes less about the poses and more about turning to the inner teacher. As Eoin Finn says in the foreword to Gravity and Grace, "yoga is a feeling, not a shape. The instant we make the shape of the pose more important than the feeling of calm, grounded centeredness, the practice risks becoming yet another rat race."
Practicing on a floating yoga mat on the lake has allowed me to find the fun in my practice again. On the SUP, I'm able to detach from the goal of reaching a final pose, have a sense of play, and tap into what I feel in my body.
The obstacles that come up on the water (i.e. a sudden change in the wind, or unexpected waves) are great practice for meeting the inevitable experiences in life that cause resistance in the body and mind. Sterios explains that when you can embrace that resistance, and perceive it as a gift, "you can move a little closer to a true, authentic relationship with all of who you are."
Shifting my focus this summer has allowed me to reconnect with myself. Water has always been where I feel most at home and at ease, and practicing yoga in that environment has re-invigorated my relationship with yoga.
Try it for yourself. Throughout the month of August, I'm teaching SUP yoga every Wednesday at 8:00 AM on Evergreen Lake, at 3:00 PM or 4:15 PM on Standley Lake in Westminster, and at Bear Creek Lake Park in Lakewood on Thursdays at 9:00 AM and Sundays at 8:30 AM. Registration includes all the necessary equipment.
I look forward to seeing you on the water!