Photo by Monica Felix @ www.monicafelix.com

Getting present with your physicality

Photo by Monica Felix @ www.monicafelix.com

Photo by Monica Felix @ www.monicafelix.com

Headstands are hard. Doing the standing splits is hard. Balancing our body weight on our big toe is hard. Twisting our spine into a pretzel is hard.

And yet, that’s not what scares us about doing yoga.

What scares us is the emotional posture of the practice. Because no matter what style of yoga we try, and no matter what type of teacher we have, the challenge is always the same:

Somebody is going to suggest a new way of operating that goes against our preconceived ideas.

Now that’s hard.

For me, it was becoming bodysmart, as my teacher called it. Fighting the urge to disappear down the rabbit hole of my mind and getting present with my physicality. Letting my thoughts come and go like weather patterns and listening to what my muscles and joints and bones were telling me.

Talk about a new way of operating.

It was a challenge. Still is a challenge, over eight years later. But there’s no doubt that it’s worth it. Because the payoff of having somebody question something you already put away in your tidy little mental drawers is, the whole house shakes. And that shock inspires you to attain heights greater than what you are accustomed to believing are possible.

What practice helps you get present with your physicality?

Scott Ginsberg is a writer, daily practitioner and work study volunteer at Bikram Yoga Park Slope.

Photo by Monica Felix @ www.monicafelix.com

Begin with the truth and build on the firm foundation it provides

Photo by Monica Felix @ www.monicafelix.com

Photo by Monica Felix @ www.monicafelix.com

Yoga is only practice.

The game we’re training for is life.

But the good news is, the postures provide us with an intuitive structure that helps us more effectively meet the requirements of living.

Our cardiovascular strength physically prepares us for the challenges we face later. Our flexibility mentally fortifies us against anything else difficult that might happen the rest of the day. Our breathing skills emotionally allow us to solve problems as quickly as they arrive.

It reminds me of an inspiring saying from the recovery movement.

Begin with the truth and build on the firm foundation it provides.

What has practicing yoga trained you for?

Scott Ginsberg is a writer, daily practitioner and work study volunteer at Bikram Yoga Park Slope.

Photo by Monica Felix @ www.monicafelix.com

Waiting for class to end

Photo by Monica Felix @ www.monicafelix.com

Photo by Monica Felix @ www.monicafelix.com

In the kitchen, a watched pot never boils.

In yoga, a watched clock never ticks.

Ask anyone who practices regularly. It’s not another cliché. Yoga is a modern manifestation of the theory of relativity.

Whatever you are waiting for, it won’t happen while you are concentrating on it. Because you’re not being present. You’re not staying in the room. You’re just waiting for class to be over so you can home and eat your body weight in chicken wings.

Yoga is about being here now. And if you keep staring at the clock on the wall between every posture, it will feel like the longest class of your life.

But if you return to the breath, if you focus on what your body is trying to say to you, time will fly by like a wonderful dream.

What’s your biggest distraction during class?

Scott Ginsberg is a writer, daily practitioner and work study volunteer at Bikram Yoga Park Slope.

Photo by Monica Felix @ www.monicafelix.com

What kind of relationship do you have with your practice?

Photo by Monica Felix @ www.monicafelix.com

Photo by Monica Felix @ www.monicafelix.com

For me, hot yoga wasn’t love at first sight, it was impact at first sight.

By the time I returned home after my first class, the only thought running through my mind was:

Wow, that was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. When’s the next class?

That’s how alive yoga made me feel. I slept the sleep of the just that night. Because this new practice wasn’t merely romanticism inside my head, it was real world application inside my body.

Kind of like dating. Instead of the usual infatuation, addiction and codependency that governed my past relationships, yoga was good old fashion healthy compatibility. Yoga and me were simply good fits for each other.

Which brings up an interesting question for every student.

What kind of relationship do you have with your practice?

Scott Ginsberg is a writer, daily practitioner and work study volunteer at Bikram Yoga Park Slope.

Photo by Monica Felix @ www.monicafelix.com

Don’t go for broke in the first ten seconds of the posture

Photo by Monica Felix @ www.monicafelix.com

Photo by Monica Felix @ www.monicafelix.com

Emerson famously said that nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.

However, we have to be careful not to become a victim of our own elation. Because everybody wants to come out of the gate with guns blazing. And the easiest thing to do is to enthusiastically plunge into a new project, only to realize that our ambition and intensity and ability aren’t sustainable over the long haul.

My instructor tells new students:

Don’t go for broke in the first ten seconds of the posture. You will literally burn out. One minute is longer than you think.

That’s the smart approach for executing almost anything. Relaxing into it. Pacing ourselves. Keeping our breathing consistent. And trusting the process to treat us well.

Without that mentality, we make ourselves vulnerable to exhaustion, frustration, even injury. Especially if we’re not honest with ourselves.

There’s a time and place to get carried away by our own enthusiasm. We should always reserve that right.

But life is a long arc game. And if we’re haphazard with our energy in the beginning, our aspirations will soon outpace our abilities.

How effective can you be in inspiring others if you’re lying on your back in your hospital bed with a stress related illness?

Scott Ginsberg is a writer, daily practitioner and work study volunteer at Bikram Yoga Park Slope.