Grace- the word has many meanings: divine intervention flowing through a being, elegance or beauty, a favor of goodwill- and the list goes on. Grace (aka Graceland) is also the name of my aunt’s sweet black lab. I am writing about Grace today as part of my commitment to 21.5.800– I agreed to write 800 words a day and practice yoga 5 days a week for 21 days. Although I started late, I have been trying to stay committed to this practice (although committing to the yoga full force has been easier than the writing- journaling does count!).
It all started with this quote that I found in a great book that I was reading (The Five Things We Cannot Change…and the Happiness We Find by Embracing Them– David Richo).
Sometimes it happens that we receive the power to say yes to ourselves, that peace enters into us whole, that self -hate and self-contempt disappear, and that our self is reunited with itself. Then we can say that grace has come upon us.- Paul Tillich
I love this quote- I had been reading it in my classes for a few days and although I like to read something new each class, this quote was so great that I had to continue reading. I read this quote when I had the opportunity to teach for my friend, Stephanie Culen, a few days ago at the Soho Club. It’s always a challenge stepping in for Steph- not only because she is an awesome teacher, but her following is really dedicated and devoted to her. Luckily, a lot of her students are also my students and know what to expect from me. My favorite part is trying to reach the students who don’t know me. The class was great, but there are always the few who are unable to let go of their preconceived notions of how the class was supposed to be- as a teacher you can just tell- the students struggle, fidget and something starts to happen inside, and some of them just give up. Those that can embrace grace are the ones who are able to be with themselves in the moment and let go.
After class, one of the students approached me and we had a great conversation about a lot of things yoga, but mainly about Grace. Although I didn’t know this at the time, Stephanie had been talking about “Grace” in her classes in the past week or so! Coincidental, probably not. Our conversation steered in the direction of- “if you just stay with something, whether it be a yoga pose, a substitute teacher or a struggle in life- the surrender in that space opens us up to grace. Not trying to change it, not trying to do anything with it except for be with it. Staying in the moment.” This conversation came to me right when I needed it.
On Sunday, I went to one of the opening classes of a new yoga studio started by Bryn, Stacey and Glenn called Yogamaya. It had been a lot time since I had practiced with Bryn and it was great to be back. A devotional yogini, she started her class with a talk about the self, being selfless and trust. There was a lot involved but essentially it ended full circle with the idea that if you just trust yourself- you open yourself to grace and the divine.
I was sensing a certain sense of synchronicity. I really believe that few things are coincidental in life- we meet people when we need to, We have conversations that are telling to what is going on in our lives, and our struggles and suffering are always here to teach us something. Certainly these convergent conversations and occurrences were not a coincidence. Maybe I needed to be more open to Grace and take my lesson. And while maybe this is just what I needed to experience at the moment in dealing with some internal struggles of my own, how things should be vs. how they actually are. I can relate it back to yoga. Twisting triangle- I don’t know what it is about this shape, but it is so challenging for me and always has been. Maybe because it ignites my tight IT band on the right side and showcases the imbalances that are clear from the right and left sides of my body, but every time I practice it, I struggle. I get irritated, holding the pose for 5 breaths is very difficult and my count of 5 when I am practicing alone, is certainly more like 3. And while most of my personal yoga practice is done on my own because of my teaching schedule, it is really easy to just leave it out when I am practicing alone. It’s easier to skip it than to face it. When I am mindful of what I need- facing the struggle- I practice twisting triangle. Then the aha moments come- for me when I am able to just surrender right there, twisting over to the right, pulling my right hip back and actually breath for 5 breaths, a transformation starts to happen. Breathing into the pain and the anxiety this shape brings up makes me realize that after the round is over, whatever was overwhelming me, no longer lingers or even matters.
So I guess the net-net is this- when you struggle, just be with whatever it is. Stay with it. It can be overwhelming and we may want to revert to running away. Whether it be in a yoga class, inside your heart, your emotions or in your day to day relationships, staying with it will most certainly lead to the transformation you need and divine intervention or Grace just happen.