November 16, 2011

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

We all know the story of the tortoise and the hare.  The hare challenges the tortoise to a race to prove how fast he is.  The slow tortoise accepts and the hare laughs at him thinking he will have no problem beating the tortoise.  The hare remains cocky and decides to sleep while the tortoise continues to plod forward with determination and with as much strength and energy that he has.  And the underestimated tortoise wins in the end.

This story popped into my head this morning as I was practicing my yoga.  I have begun moving much more slowly in my vinyasas.  I am finding more strength through my legs and feet and I am stretching my heart forward as I lower down into Dandasana.  Keeping the strength from Dandasana, I slowly and carefully roll my chest up and my shoulders back while lengthening and strengthening through my abdomen into Upward Dog.  I am trying to be much more aware of my core and to keep the control in my hips to prevent them from simply dropping down in order to get a deeper back bend.  I am actually resisting my deepest backbend for the time being because I think that is how I hurt my back.  I am trying to find the strength before I go deeper.  My transition from Upward Dog to Downward Dog has slowed down as well.  I am searching for the strength of my core, my legs and my arms to lift me up into Down Dog.  I realized that I was simply using my momentum to transition between the poses.

This awareness that I am trying to bring to my practice has slowed down my practice immensely.  My vinyasas are becoming a part of the practice as opposed to being something I must do between the asanas to stay warm.

Now, we all know that in the practice of yoga there is no race but I think that we all have a tortoise and a hare that exits within us.  The hare that wants us to be able to do all those amazing arm balancing postures and deep back bends as quickly as possible because we feel we have something to prove.  And the tortoise, that simply wants us to do what we can by focusing on the moment and putting one foot in front of the other.

The hare may be what helps us begin our yoga journey but the tortoise is what keeps us practicing.  The determination of the tortoise allows us to continue our practice through injury or life getting busy.  The tortoise allows us to access the resilience that is sometimes needed through a practice.  If we keep putting one foot in front of the other, no matter what the pace, eventually we will get there, where ever there may be.

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