I was deeply inspired by a recent email I received from teacher, mother, writer and resting advocate, Octavia Raheem.
She implored me and her other readers to “let it be easy.”
Let’s just get this out of the way first:
Sometimes IT is just not easy.
The world is a HARD place to be for thousands of reasons, especially now as the global COVID-19 pandemic has dragged on and on.
Are you making things harder?
Maybe you are like me and you tend to make things harder than they need to be.
Does that sound like you?
If so, I’m writing this for us.
Hatha means force.
Hatha Yoga is a practice of ferocity and discipline. The Haṭha Yoga Pradīpikā describes intense techniques and practices to cleanse the body and wrangle the mind into focused submission. The Sansrkit word hatha, while sometimes translated as the metaphoric joining of sun and moon, literally means a blow, a force, a strike, killing or slaughter. Wow. Nothing easy about that, right? No wonder it feels nicer to describe hatha as the joining of the solar and lunar energies.
“Not too tight. Not too loose.”
As you may know, I’ve spent the past several months participating in an advanced teacher training program with the venerable Cyndi Lee. She is widely praised as the first Western woman to integrate Buddhist philosophy with the practices of Yoga.
She continues to remind us that we can honor the practices and alignment of Hatha Yoga while we walk the Buddhist middle path. Cyndi says all the time: “Not too tight. Not too loose.”
I’m regularly too tight.
Mired in details.
In short, I take that idea of Hatha as force a little too literally to the point where I make things too hard.
The oft quoted line in The Yoga Sūtra of Patañjali is 2.46: sthira-sukham-āsanam. This line is typically translated as something like “Practice yoga postures with strength and ease.” However, if we are being more literal, this line means “Resolutely abide in good space.”
In order to resolutely abide in good space, I almost always need to stop working so hard and so much.
“Not too tight. Not too loose.” as Cyndi says.
“Let it be easy”, as Octavia Raheem encourages.
Two ways to let it be easy:
- Restorative Yoga.Restorative Yoga is such a huge part of what I practice and teach. It’s an entire discipline devoted to attentive comfort, rest. Pay closer attention and work less is the motto. If this sounds up your alley, join me for my next Restorative Yoga workshop.
- Learn from the energetic system of yoga.You don’t have to lie around on a bunch of props in a Restorative Yoga class to find more comfort and ease from your time on the mat.
I’m leading a series of classes over the next few weeks on the vayu, literally the winds. Yoga has this sophisticated and poetic way to explain how energy moves in our bodies. The five winds, or the five energetic movements, give us a template for how to cultivate what we need without overworking.
So here’s to the hard workers of the world! May we find ways to let it be easy.