“Unclench your jaw.”
“Let your shoulders relax.”
“What are we, dogs?” my mind mumbled. I noted my immediate snark then tried to focus, focus, focus, but the more I ordered my mind to be still the more it ran away.
I had recently learned that the word yoga is a Sanskrit word meaning to yoke or unite. As a teenager my image of taking a yellow egg yolk upon me was cleared up when I learned a yoke is a wooden piece binding the necks of oxen together allowing them to wear weight evenly and move together. So then in yoga, to be yoked means the body and mind are united, and one cannot move faster than the other, which demands a stillness and a movement.
As the instructor glided around the room, words lifted out of her throat like rolling waves; slow and easy, but with force. My mind raced from complicit intoxication to silent internal laughter. Had a friend been next to me, I’d have lost it for sure. Somehow, probably by some sort of black magic, a mist of lavender and something woodsy sprayed into the hot air. I breathed in its amazing smell and thought it all a bit over the top.
But I liked it.
“It’s only about you; your own mat and process.”
“Open space to receive.”
“Breathe through the discomfort.”
“Release, and now…receive.”
I resisted, and clenched along the way. I mean, what does release and now receive even mean? But I still went through the motions, appearing to comply. Trying to comply.
Release, receive, release receive, I repeated in my mind.
Sometimes I feel like these instructors and Masters of Balance a little fraudulent, but sometimes I feel like they drink their own brand of Kool-Aid with all the gusto and desire of a 4 year old kid. And I admire that kind of devotion.
As I tried to still my mind, the instructor said,
“We will now end in child’s pose.”
“Head down, arms reaching forward.”
I always think of a prayer in this position. That’s how a lot of my prayers look. Propped up on my bed, head down, bum up, arms in front of me. It started because the wood floor was too hard and my bed was too high. In this setting with the ambient fake ocean and magic lavender air I closed my eyes and envisioned rows of Yogis bowing before the Sun in Mecca.
We turned over and ended the class on our back facing up. Savasana. Hands open.
Thoughts usually stream through my mind during corpse pose. I know we’re supposed to be quiet, but this day I remember reading something about grace being an act of receiving with open hands. I never thought of it that way.
To be able to receive is graceful. Full of grace.
Letting someone give you a compliment, letting someone do something for you, not counting, owing, or controlling, but letting it happen just because it or they are gracious. Just opening your hands and receiving. I always thought receiving first required sacrifice. I thought that to receive, you have to give, and while that may be true in part, maybe all I’ve been doing is begging for grace and openness when I’ve been pushing it away. My wishful mind and busy body disjointed in a singular prayer earning for a yoked release of weight.
I continued to lie down and opened my hands a little more, letting the thoughts stream, because grace is being enough and receiving whatever gracefully enters.
How do you define, interpret, or practice grace?