In describing the breathing to our few newbies, she said "Press your lips together." (Ujjayi Pranayama, or Ocean Breath, comes through the nose while constricting the throat.)
She went on to explain why she doesn't do the practice when instructing. I can't quite recall a full quote. But here's what I took away: it helps your practice to "use your listening."
And it's SO TRUE. I've been doing yoga for years. I know what nearly all the poses look like. I don't need to see the teacher do them. But I always look. It's a distraction. One I didn't even notice I was free of. But perhaps it helps explain my affinity for this place.
These two thoughts came toward the beginning of the practice. And I had to chuckle to myself.
- Shut your Mouth, and Open your Eyes.
- Sit down, and Shut up.
- Be still, and Listen.
How often do I try to get myself to do just that? (Answer: VERY.)
Our fearless leader came back to the listening theme throughout practice. Not just listening to the poses called. Listening to your body.
- Pushing it to do something you haven't tried before.
- Backing off when that seems right.
- Letting it "go" without letting your mind get in the way.
She also advised, listening without "story-telling." Actually, I can't quite remember exactly how she put it. I immediately drew a parallel to conversations with others -- you should always try to listen completely to what the other person is saying, rather than trying to formulate your next statement while they're talking. It's not my finest talent.
And then? I realized anew why I have a hard time "being in the moment" - because I'm always "story-telling." Even when I'm not in a conversation, I'm thinking how I'll describe it when I tell someone about it. Yep, that includes thinking about writing this post. (Ta-da! What do you think?)
I tried not to. I'm pretty sure the only times I fully succeeded were when the practice got REALLY hard, and I had focus on not falling down or barfing. Oh! And a few other times! Like when I did this again --
Except this time? I did it without just kneeing the crap out of my triceps. I actually really balanced, like you're supposed to. See - I had to - I wore shorts and was too ridiculously sweaty to cheat with friction.
But enough about me. Let's talk about you. What do you think of me? ... I'm listening ...