THROAT CHOKED. EYES OPEN. BREATHING NORMALLY.
Remember that time you cursed your yoga teacher out (in your head of course because doing that out loud would just be plain rude and so un-namaste)? Oh yeah? You want to curse them out like every class you take?
Or maybe you just plain wanted to murder your yoga teacher? But c’mon, any honest yogi knows that would be totally going against the first yama outlined in the Yoga Sutras which is the principle of ahimsa which basically means to not wish harm to any living creature. And ….you know …. murder is against the law and seems kind of harsh. I mean just because the teacher is directing you to do some challenging things doesn’t mean you should necessarily be plotting their death.
Or maybe instead of dropping F-bombs and thinking about driving knives into your teacher you find yourself just chuckling at their mere suggestion to lift your leg up.
“Ha! Yeah right lady. Sure. No problem. I’ll just glue my forehead to my knee while I’m upside down with sweat pouring into my eyes and up into my nose burning every last little nostril hair I have left. Absolutely no problem.”
Or maybe your inner monologue sounds more like this, “Whatever buddy. Tell it to Gumby. Go F yourself”
Or perhaps you are singing this tune, “Mother f’er. I hate this posture. I suck at this posture. Why don’t my hips go that way? I can’t suck my stomach in anymore. Maybe if I move my head 1 millimeter to the left sweat won’t pour into my nose and burn a hole into my brain. Maybe I can just pretend I am doing the posture. God, how annoying is this teacher? And for the love of God is this pose over yet?!”
I may (wink wink) have said and thought all these things in the past 5 years. Ok I admit it. Here’s my confession. I have said and thought these things pretty much every class I take. I’ve listened to the teacher deliver the line, “Throat choked, eyes open, breathing normally” for 5 years.
At first when I started hearing these words I was perplexed. Confused. Unsure of how to actually “breathe normally” while my chin was tucked with my heart pounding away and sweat going every which way. As my practice developed I moved from being perplexed to just plain old pissed off. (Which is interesting and notable because I was a fairly angry person in general during this time.) Instead of bringing an actual human friend to yoga with me, I just brought my emotional friend known as anger. My practice was awesome. NOT. I had a hard time being still. I had a hard time being patient. I had a hard time letting go. Who doesn’t?
Although these things – the stillness, the patience, the letting go, have gotten easier they are still hard. But they have gotten easier because I kept showing up. I kept practicing. I kept doing the work. It was messy. It always is. Sitting with yourself in a hot room with no place to hide is one of the best places to do the work. It also happens to be a great place to get physically fit. To get healthier. To lose weight. To build strength and flexibility. To get glowing skin. To gain friendship. To feel a part of something. A community. To help move yourself away from the hot loneliness (thank you Glennon Doyle Melton!).
Now when I hear, “Throat compressed, eyes open, breathing normally” and it lands in my body I tend to just laugh. I laugh because a part of me thinks this part of the dialogue sounds ridiculous and the other part of me is thinking, “Just be casual. No problem. You’re just pseudo cutting off your airway and you’re going to breathe normal. It’s like putting socks on. No. Big. Deal.” But trust me, there are still plenty of days when I am not laughing and I am cursing the teacher out and willing them at the same time to just open the G.D. door.
Here’s where it gets interesting for me. When I hear these words, “Throat compressed, eyes open, breathing normally” they are sometimes coming from my own mouth. Two months ago I moved inches off of my mat and stepped onto the podium. As I have transitioned from a student of Bikram yoga to now an actual teacher of this yoga I have encountered a deeper level of inquiry into my own practice and more thoughts to navigate. I have discovered how much fun teaching is and I recognize the joy it brings me. When I am on the podium speaking these words, “Throat compressed, eyes open, breathing normally” …… I wonder. I wonder what you are thinking. Are you cursing me out? Do you want to kill me? I wonder if you are bored. I wonder what is going on in your world. And then I return to my breath because it doesn’t matter what’s going on in your head; nor does it matter what’s going on in mine. Thoughts are just thoughts and it’s when we give power to those thoughts that we get into trouble. That’s when we lose focus. That’s when our practice falls apart.
It’s amazing how the mind wanders. And it’s even more amazing how we can simply check back in by paying attention to our breath. To something our body already knows how to do. To such a convenient process that we take it for granted.
So to all my yogi friends and family … curse on. Laugh on. Drop an F bomb. Plan my demise. But then check back in with your breath. I’ll try if you try 🙂
Throat compressed, eyes open, breathing normally.
ALWAYS BREATHING NORMALLY.