Teaching a yoga class yesterday, I spoke about natural unfolding. Taking students through a slow and deliberate set up for a posture, I was making a point about finding comfort in the challenge of the pose. It was sirasana, headstand, a challenging pose for many of us. I talked them through several preparatory positions that foster strength and balance so that when the yogi is ready to lift the legs overhead, the foundation for support is there.
Many of us have to stay in these preparatory poses for a long time. Sometimes years. Each body has its own natural rhythms and necessities. And we can’t rush the process of getting ready to actually pop into a headstand. Core has to be strong. Neck has to be aligned. Drishti has to be firmly fixed. Concentration dead-on.
This is a natural and organic process, and students who try to rush the process or become frustrated over their rate of improvement only cause themselves suffering and stymie the natural unfolding of the posture. When this happens, the practice becomes more about learning to address the attitude we bring to the mat than learning to do the posture. Be patient. Be kind to your body. Show up on the mat every day. Be in the pose you can naturally be in. And all will happen as it should in the posture. The posture will appear when the body and the mind are perfectly aligned to allow it to unfold naturally.
And by natural, I mean as in nature. After class, I spoke with a student who was frustrated because she couldn’t get up into headstand. She said she had been practicing for a while and she just didn’t know what was going wrong. I asked her if she had considered that maybe nothing was going wrong, that she was simply in the middle of a natural unfolding. “But it’s not happening fast enough,” she said. “I’ve been working on this for six months; it should be here by now.”
I laughed a little at that, as if we can place an order with the universe like ordering a book online and expect delivery on a specific date. This ain’t Amazon.com. I told her I had planted some small broccoli plants a couple of weeks ago. Such pretty little leaves at the top of graceful 8 inch stems. I’ve watered them daily and look at them lovingly every time I go outside to walk the dog. Where is the broccoli? I think, knowing that’s really silly. It will be a while. These fragile little plants are encoded to grow and flourish in their own good time. And as long as conditions are adequate (good soil, enough sun, daily water), they will go through each stage they need to go through to produce a nice, fat head of broccoli. About two months my horticulturist tells me.
“Two months?” I complain. “I want broccoli now!” But of course, I know that natural unfolding cannot be rushed. It has its own ways. And so the broccoli helps me develop patience. And I do my part, acting as good steward of my precious little stems.
In yoga, we must act as a good steward of our body. It, too, has its own, natural process for developing into a new version of a posture. It, too, is a part of nature. It, too, has seeds planted within in that, given the right conditions, will germinate, develop, unfold, and flourish. And not one of those stages can be rushed. Each has its own needs and timing.
So we show up on our mat, we bring our deepest devotion to the process, and we create the condition under which a pose can germinate, develop, unfold, and flourish. And then we embrace patience in the practice. We embrace devotion in the practice. We embrace discipline in the practice. And sooner or later, this lifetime or the next, our posture will unfold quite naturally.
Germinate, develop, unfold, and flourish: not a bad recipe for our creative process, too. How might this simple developmental scenario help you bring more equanimity to your own creative work in the world? Do you know there is a seed of creation within you, just waiting for the right conditions to germinate? Are you being a good steward of your creative potential, giving it the soil and light it needs to grow?
If you’d like help in examining the way you are approaching your desire to create—and techniques for germinating, developing, unfolding, and flourishing—I would love to work with you. We need skills to create, of course, but we also need certain habits of mind that allow us to stay long enough in the create process for flourishing to occur. And most of us need a little help every once in a while in learning ways to really nourish our creative skills and habits. LifeArt Studio is designed to do just that.
Let’s talk! Let’s flourish!