In a recent yoga class, we held Warrior 1 for several breaths. I always find it interesting when we hold poses for several seconds. For one, it gives me time to check in with my mind and body. Are my thoughts wandering? Am I still breathing deeply? Am I fully aware of where my body is in space? Am I fully aware of what I'm feeling, where I am feeling relaxation and where I am feeling tension or discomfort? What do I need to adjust in this pose so I can relax better and breathe better?
It sure sounds like a lot of questions. Which is why despite having a home practice, I like going to a class once or twice a week, because with an instructor leading the class, I am able to just listen and feel.
In Warrior 1, there are many things to attend to. Front knee directly over ankle. Front thigh parallel (or as close to parallel as you can) to the floor. Back leg strong and grounded, extended backward. Back foot at a 45-degree angle, planted firmly on the floor. Hips squared towards the front of the room (imagine that they are headlights). Ribcage lifted. Sides lengthened, arms strong and extended upward, energy through the fingertips. Shoulders relaxed and down. Head in neutral to look forward or turned slightly upward to gaze at the hands. Facial muscles relaxed. Breaths are deep and even.
Sounds like a lot, doesn't it? Staying in a pose does require tuning in to little signals. It requires awareness to make necessary adjustments, to make the pose better and safer for your body as well as to maximize the stretch.
Isn't that the same thing we need to do in life? We immerse ourselves in an experience, and tune in to what is going on - both externally and internally. We stay perceptive to change. We respond and make adjustments. I think we do this all the time. From the seemingly mundane activities like cooking (which I never think as mundane, actually!) to the things we do at work, the things we do in our interactions with others.
I always think about how this is at work in my life.
I recently taught a class at the university, about family-professional collaboration. One recent activity we had the students do is to discuss case studies - which were unresolved dilemmas, many of which require moral and ethical decisions. It is an exercise that requires communication, team collaboration, and problem solving. As an instructor I spent a great deal of time preparing for this exercise, reading on the research-based practices on how to effectively implement this activity for students. But it was not done as soon as students came to a consensus and to a resolution. I also spent a great deal of time afterward reflecting on the experience and on the feedback from students. Tuning in. Responding. Adjusting. Thinking about how to make the experience better in the future.
Or in photography - we tune in to our subject. We respond and take a photo. We adjust the camera and lens settings, and try again for a better shot.
Relationships are the same - whether with family, friends, or coworkers. We tune in to verbal and nonverbal signals when communicating. We respond with sincerity. We may agree to disagree, and we take deep breaths when angry. We adjust, we meet halfway. We come to a shared understanding.
Tune in, respond, adjust. More life's lessons from yoga.
How do you tune in? I'd love to hear from you.