Thursday, April 07, 2005

Impossible Stillness

A few years ago a friend asked me to teach 45-minutes of yoga to a class of 25 fourth-graders at one of our local public schools. At the end of the class, after everyone had rested quietly in the final relaxation pose, savasana, the teacher remarked with shock that she had NEVER seen any of her students so calm and still.

Had she not seen it, she wouldn't have believed it possible.

Sometimes when I lie down to practice savasana, I don't think it's possible, either. I wiggle and twitch and worry and squirm. I wonder if I'll ever settle down. But eventually, I do. Mostly.

In almost every class I teach, there's at least one person who never settles down and relaxes. (When people wiggle around in savasana, I call it 'the dancing corpse' pose.)

"I just can't relax," they say. "It's impossible."

I believe one of my jobs as a yoga teacher is to change peoples' minds about what's possible.

I saw a Catholic Cardinal from New York on the news this morning. He had just arrived in Vatican City. He said Rome was a city of three million people and that city officials were considering asking people to stay away because they didn't believe the city could handle the estimated four million visitors expected for the Pope's funeral.

Yesterday, 18,000 people per hour were paying respect at the Pope's bier. The numbers of people are staggering.

"No one in Rome expected this," he said.

People were waiting in line 12 hours to view the Pope lying in state.

I immediately thought of my family's visit to Disney World a couple years back. Waiting in line with tired children, in high heat and humidity, stressed out from having spent too much money--well, it's one the worst experiences known to humankind. We would do nearly anything we could to avoid standing in those lines. Lines like those bring out the worst in people. You've been there. You know what I mean.

The TV anchors remarked with shock today, just like that fourth-grade teacher, that they could never have imagined two million people standing in line for 12 hours behaving so calmly, serenely, and reverently.

As unbelieveable as it is, IT'S STILL POSSIBLE. With the right intentions and focus, even under the harshest of conditions, it's possible to be calm and still.

I admit that I don't routinely conjure up the sense of reverence and respect I feel at someone's funeral. But maybe I should, now that I know it's possible.

Don't just read about it. Get up. Experience it. Experience yoga!

Kevin Perry

p.s., Here's my yoga tip for today: The Sanskrit word for peace is shanti. For an unparalled calming effect, in savasana or not, just repeat to yourself over and over, "shanti, shanti, shanti." It works in any language, really. Peace. Peace. Peace.

p.p.s., Check back here tomorrow. I'll give you another reason why going topsy-turvy is good and good for you. When I finish this series on the benefits of practicing inversions, you'll be head over heels in love with them!

Copyright 2005. All rights reserved by Mo Yoga LLC.


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