Wawa once said: “When the mind is present, yoga can be seen everywhere.”
Illuminate and See the Emptiness of the Five Skandhas (Aggregates of Clinging)
Yoga mat is like a mirror, reflecting our five aggregates and five poisons. Various different mindsets of competitiveness, inferiority complex or a sense of loss emerge as we practice the poses. The desire is reflected in the thought of wanting to do the poses well, hatred is reflected in being upset of not being able to do the pose, and attachment is not able to let go. How does one settle such mind? “Yoga is looking in, not looking out.” Yoga is something you do for yourself, not a performance for others to see. It is about elevating one’s state of being. My teacher had said it doesn’t matter if we get to the final pose. She rather has us do the modified pose instead. It is about focusing on the breath, going with the flow, and not thinking about doing the pose, but rather let it happen naturally. All you have to do is be persistent in your practice, let it build up through time. Even when you can’t achieve the very difficult poses, you still accept it as is, and not be attached to the show off poses.
Men tend not to be as flexible as women, so you often see a man not being able to go as far in a pose. There were times during practice seeing everyone folding forward easily and not wanting to lose face, I was trying my hardest to get there as well. It was because I was looking outward, so I didn’t even realize that the pose was done incorrectly and thus my body and mind just kept on getting tighter. Later I learned to let go, let go of wanting to save face and my inner obstacles. Of course everyone wanted to look good and be number one, but it is when you are honest with yourself that life has room to adjust and grow. Let things be as they are, even it is a place that no one wants to be. When I accepted my own shortcoming, my attached mind was able to dissolve, and my body seemed to soften as my mind found peace. Don’t conquer the body, rather surrender to the body.
Don't Try To Control, Go with the Flow
Bruce Lee once mentioned in an article: “when you try too hard to get to a place of peace and harmony, that intention will block the flow of your thoughts, and your mind will become congested.” The harder you try to perform a pose, the more rigid your mind becomes. It doesn’t matter at all if you get to the final pose; it is more important whether or not you were relaxed during the process. Don’t try to get to the destination, let go of the thought of getting it right, instead allow the breath to guide you and the posture will happen naturally. “Let go of the past, the future, and remain present in the here and now.” Because when you can’t do a pose, your mind is busy regretting the past and when it is a pose you have never done, your mind is worrying about the future, so when the mind is not anchored at the present moment, it is stuck, and you the lose the ease of the movement. How to cease these thoughts and practice without expectation is the work that we do on the mat.
Not let the thoughts arise with your movement, and maintaining awareness is the biggest lesson in practicing. If you can focus on the breath, withdraw your senses during practice, you’ll feel light and ease afterwards. However, if your mind is chaotic and reaching outward, you’ll just feel tired and fatigued. If you didn’t focus inward while practicing, you are just exercising and sweating. But, when the mind is present and the senses drawn inward and you are mindful of every movement, aware of each and every movement and thought, that feeling is wonderful, as if it is meditation in motion. In life if you can look within, mindful of your actions and thoughts; and see everything clearly, that along with an unattached mind, there will then be boarders between being on and off the mat and every moment is a yogic moment.
Lastly, I like to thank Wawa, Denise and all the teachers who have guided me. Even though I still have far to go in my practice, but they have never left me behind. Whether it is poses or philosophy of life, I have learned so much from them. I also like to thank the staff at Tienmu and Anho studio and my sales rep, Hillary. You are all so warm and nice, making me feel as comfortable at SPACE as my own home. I’m grateful to the cleaning staff. If it wasn’t for their hard work, I wouldn’t have a nice place to practice. Many thanks to the fellow students at Anho and Tienmu, whether it is practicing on the mat together or sharing off the mat, I have benefited so much. And lastly I like to thank the crazy, class-loving “Tienmu mob” for letting me know that I’m not the only nut for loving the practice. To grow in class and to discuss practice and philosophy of life with you all really is a rare fortune.
I hope in the future that whether it is on or off the mat, my mind can remain present, free of distractions of external circumstances and internal thoughts, I can return to the truth and see my true self.