I found a new yoga studio in my neighborhood this week. Actually, it's a studio I've been to before, and I'd written off as not-that-great... but then someone I trust recommended it to me, so I gave it another shot, and I loved it. Specifically, I loved a teacher there, Christine, who has decades of experience, and was able to command the class so easily, with natural humor and a light touch.
Christine asked us to consider the idea of expansion and contraction. When did we feel expansive in our lives, and in our yoga practice, and when did we feel constricted? Sometimes, she observed, judgement can lead to a feeling of constriction.
As soon as she said it, I became aware of the judgemental narrative running in my mind -- the voice that was judging me for how much I'd resisted coming to class, and for not making enough progress on various personal and professional projects. This was not a kind voice! ...Nor a useful one. As soon as I brought attention to this inner judge, the most amazing thing happened: its grip began to melt away, just like the Wicked Witch of the West. I was able to soften, and replace judgement with compassion. Suddenly, my heart felt open -- the entire energy of my body and spirit shifted.
It was openness that led me to give this yoga studio another try, and the result was finding a teacher who helped me bring even more openness into my life.
I believe that when we open our hearts, we tap into our true power, gaining access to the best parts of ourselves. Openness lets us share the light and gifts inside of ourselves that the world needs most.
I'll ask you the same question Christine asked our class: When do you feel expansive in your life (and, if you practice yoga, in your practice), and when do you feel constricted?
Recognizing that judgement can create a feeling of constriction...are you able to bring attention to your inner judge? What is he or she saying? In my experience, the power of attention itself is often enough to shut this Wicked Witch down.
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- My favorite asana, or yoga pose, for feeling open in my heart, is fish pose (I love a restorative version, with a block under my upper back).
- Metta Meditation is a lovely practice that focuses on the inherent connection between self-compassion and compassion for others.