Ready to Begin

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.” – Zen Master Shunryo Suzuki

In yoga, we work to cultivate a beginner’s mind. Each day, when we sit to meditate or when we unroll our mats, the intention is to begin this practice again fresh and unencumbered.

That intent may be difficult many days. Okay, for me, most days.

The past always informs the present. And unfortunately, it’s also what limits us.

After more than four decades on this earth, I’ve got some pretty ingrained habits. My family can tell you that in my mind, there is only one way to mow the lawn or cook an omelet. When they take charge of those chores, rather than feeling gratitude or appreciating a different way of accomplishing a task, I let them know they didn’t do it the right way (my way).

Fortunately, they are my best teachers. They open me up to different possibilities. They force me to shift my perspective and get out of my familiar ruts.

And darn it if my daughter isn’t incredible at making the turf look like a groomed ballfield; and if my husband’s sprinkle of parmigiano reggiano doesn’t make those eggs sing.

For me, it’s a process of letting go the idea that I already know how to do something expertly and embracing the fact that there’s always more to learn.

Which is why when a yoga teacher asks me to come into a pose in an entirely new way, everything shifts for me.

When the familiar refrain of “press into all four corners of your feet” turns into “bend your knees and shift the top of your shin over the center of your arch”, I experience my footing completely differently in that moment. I stand as a beginner, as an infant who has just pulled up to standing, surrendering to the sensations of being upright in my body. Abandoning my preconceptions of what mountain pose should look like and simply savoring the steps of feeling grounded and connected on the earth can be a revelation if I’m open to it.It takes a willingness, a vulnerability, to be a beginner. But it opens up a world in which everything can be amazing.
Beginning students and those cultivating a beginner’s mind are invited to a series of three new student workshops at Evolution Power Yoga May 3-5. I’ll be teaching Friday night’s class from 4:15 to 5:15 p.m. My intention is to teach as a beginner, in the moment, as the practice unfolds.There will also be a class on Saturday from 1-2 p.m. and a class on Sunday from 3:15 to 4:15 p.m. Free to new and current students, the classes aim to explore poses in different ways. Register by calling 391-1060. Students can attend one or all three.

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