Pause, Unpause

Take time to reflect. Don’t put it off. Reflection is as important as experience. Otherwise you’ll forget all the thoughts and insights your mind was waiting to spill. Here is what I remember since I last posted.

I have felt like a receptacle for these past 3 weeks, opening myself up to the wisdom of my gurus on the wooden floor of the studio, bleary-eyed, learning the language of my body, how it expands and contracts. My heart and head are so full.

About a week ago, waking up on ~4 hours of sleep (obviously not the ideal) and driving on the wooded, winding road to the studio, the thought “why can’t this be easier” came to mind. My body was sore from the class the day before, and everything hurt…and of course, I was sleepy. We began with Balasana, and as I put my head to the mat, I felt a sense of contentment so deep and pure that I can’t fully put it into words. I don’t know what I had been expecting – I had left my expectation for reward or change somewhere outside of myself after my 1st full week of yoga – but this feeling, on this morning, was like a gift bestowed upon me, unasked for.

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(Chaturangadandasana)

Yoga is more than asana, drishti, or even breath – these are all simply micro-facets of the yoga that is a discipline of returning to one’s true, ever blissful, unchanging nature. A coming home.

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(Ustrasana)

And sure, I’ve learned to protract my shoulders, and the importance of a strong core, but I have learned awareness more than any physical lesson throughout these 4 weeks. Not to rush. To be grounded.

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(Navasana)

So of course finding one’s true Self won’t be so easy. We are limitless and we are sublime.

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(Vashishtasana)

And the universe reminds me of this at 6 AM, when I press my head to my mat and relax my small, tired body and feel the love within the whole world, in that instant, within me.

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(Malasana)

Back at college, I’ve begun to memorize Kino’s Ashtanga 1st Series in earnest. It feels so strange not to be seeing my teacher walk around the studio, and to focus my attention on a screen instead, but that is an incentive for memorization. Sometimes I feel secure enough to close my eyes while I do a vinyasa or even a full round of sun salutation. This makes balancing difficult, but I feel a peculiar expansiveness and purity begin to stretch within me when I focus solely on prana without visual distractions, in an almost meditative way.

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(Matsayasana – and some new yoga goodies! A biodegradable Prana mat, yoga bag, and Gaiam block.)

Having had another family member recently diagnosed with cancer, I have decided to undertake another awareness endeavor – ramping up my 50K distance and running a 50-mile ultra as part of the North Face Endurance Challenge. Each mile will be dedicated to someone in the cancer community, and I will post the names on this blog closer to the event. Unlike biking cross-country or running a marathon, this will not be a fundraiser. The power of this endeavor will be the grueling conditions and the delicious long distance of the trail under my feet. I’m ready for blood, sweat, tears, and whatever mental dilemmas this ultra will throw at me. I am surrendering to the run.

Picture from running Billy Goat Trail A over winter break:

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Snowy C&O canal:

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This song always reminds me of home. I’m so thankful I got to spend time with my family.

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