Ashtanga Yoga — “Beauty and the Beast”

by Jul 1, 2013

A couple of weekends ago I read an article in the Saturday magazine section of the Dominion Post about the Anglican Archbishop of Wellington, Bishop Justin Duckworth. You can read the whole article here: http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/capital-life/8826469/Bishop-Duckworth-leading-the-charge . There was one quote that stuck in my head. He is talking about being camped on the summit of Mt. Kapakapanui in a storm seeking guidance after being asked to become Archbishop of Wellington and he has what he calls a “could be God” moment. Here is the quote:

I just mean a thought comes into my head that I wouldn’t normally think and I think where did that come from? Either it could be some strange mental process or it could be God. I had one of those ‘could be God’ moments……..”

I think that all of us have experienced moments of inspiration that feel like that. Moments when we are not sure of where the thought or the feeling or even the action comes from.

The following day, at the end of my morning Led class I had one of those “could be God” moments. I normally try and end the class when everyone comes out of Savasana with some positive comment after thanking everyone for attending. I try not to think about these comments before I make them otherwise I tend to get nervous and tongue tied. So, that Sunday I just let the words come and found myself saying something like “You know, this Ashtanga practice is a strong practice and it very quickly shows us the limits in our body. But it just as quickly shows us the beauty. It is the limits in our body that show us our human side and the beauty that shows the divine in ourselves. One of the nicest things about my job is that I get to see the beauty in every body that comes through the door of the studio”.

I think that it is easy and perhaps natural for us to focus on the limits to what we can do and forget to appreciate the beauty. There is beauty in this practice for everyone and you don’t need to being doing some extreme Advanced A posture to achieve it. There is beauty in a simple forward bend, even if you cannot touch your toes. As a teacher I get to see this in everyone. It is why I find it easy to encourage and to praise and to teach with a smile on my face.

The challenge is not necessarily to be “good” at yoga, but to bring your focus to the beauty of your practice, to bring your focus to the divine in your practice; and……to practice, practice practice…..

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