I was a typical American entering Kathmandu. The very idea of crossing the dusty, busy streets of Boudha, Kathmandu was daunting. Maybe we didn't really need to ever cross the streets that were scattered with potholes, busses with passengers on top, motorcycles, "scooties", cows, water buffalo, taxis and people. As there are no traffic lights or stop signs, there was never really a break in the traffic which seemed to be coming from every direction.
My husband and I looked at each other, found a break in the traffic, and attempted to make a run for it. Luckily, our guide was there with a quick "stop, hold my hands, I'll teach you". We obediently held Shakti's hands, and at the age of 40+, were taught how to cross the street. His message was simple, slow down, don't make any sudden movements, and let them know you're coming. Create space for them to react. It was like a game of frogger, moving, pausing, then moving once again. During the 4 days that followed, we obediently held Shakti's hands whenever we had to cross the street so that he could teach us how to slow down for our own safety.
My yoga practice has followed a very similar pattern. I started out with a very fast paced, sweaty vinyasa practice about 16 years ago. It was the feeling at the end of practice, the pause during shavasana that kept me coming back to the mat. Some years later, I found an amazing teacher with the same message that I learned in Nepal. She taught me to slow down, engage my muscles precisely, and find time to pause in the middle of my asana practice. This pause allowed me to experience more subtle sensations and create space in my body.
Even if you practice a very flowing vinyasa style of yoga, I invite you to take a moment to pause in a few poses. You can play the game of frogger during your practice by pausing during a pose and experiencing the ways your body moves with your breath, or the way that grounding down through one area can help you open up somewhere else. Much like crossing the road in Kathmandu, slowing down can let the driver (your mind) catch up with your movement & see that you're coming. You will be able to appreciate more subtle aspects of the pose and fine tune your alignment. This leads to a happier, healthier practice.
This lesson of slowing down can move off the mat as well. During your busy day, maybe you can take a moment alone to pray, chant, or meditate. Maybe taking a moment to pause and be with your family or loved ones will help both of you find more joy in your otherwise busy lives. Notice the areas of life where you would benefit by slowing down and creating space.
For those of you who were not around in the 80's, frogger was a popular video game where a frog tried to cross traffic without getting run over. I may be dating myself by referencing it in this blog post. Either way, play frogger. Pause for a moment during life or your yoga asana practice (poses).
Namaste - Beth