Snow – a thick, wet blanket of snow was covering the ground when I awoke today. Bringing with it lots of water. Already, when I went out to shovel in the morning, there were puddles forming in the snow on the driveway. “How wonderful Mother Nature has brought water to our dry, wind-swept Colorado lands,” I thought as I shoveled some snow away to clear a path for my students to walk on as they came to class a few hours later.
And then, part way through class, one student exclaimed “This is tough today! You’re holding postures much longer than usual, and I’m ready to come out...” That’s the influence this blanket of snow has had on me today. Cooling, calming, quieting. A time, once again, to turn inward, if only for a brief moment before the heat and action of summer is upon us. Time, again, to explore the inner realm… Holding poses can bring things up for us. If we pay attention, first we might notice the how our mind wanders from the experience in the body to notice how another student is “doing the pose” or to what’s happening outside, or to planning our afternoon activities, or to thinking about what we’re going to have for dinner, or do over the upcoming weekend… Yet, if we gently guide the mind back to the present moment, and begin to explore our unique experience in our unique body, we might notice that a slight adjustment to the way we habitually hold out our arms, or stand on our feet makes it easier to continue holding the pose. Another very slight adjustment may allow our breath to descend deeper into the body each time we inhale. May allow our spine to elongate a bit more easily with each exhalation… And then we notice a slight sensation of floating verses sinking in the pose. Maybe, just maybe, there’s a way to begin experiencing comfort and ease in the pose, rather than dread and discomfort, as we continue to hold it, hold it, hold it and breathe…
This is the wisdom of the Kapha Dosha. Damp, cool, calm. A willingness to move slowly, to explore deeper, to accumulate experiences… We all have parts of this dosha in us – our bones are considered part of the earth; the mucus in our lungs, nose, mouth accumulate when things aren't flowing properly. A mind that never forgets, or a body that is slow to start moving but easily sustains gentle movement for a long time, once up and running, are also representative of the Kapha Dosha. The Kapha Dosha - comprised of earth and water... Just as the earth needed the moisture from this spring snowfall, our bodies benefit from elements of the Kapha Dosha. Slowing down offers us the opportunity to really begin to notice and understand how the impact of our activities might just keep us from really knowing our center… How busyness can distract us from the richness of the present moment, preventing us from really hearing what another is trying to tell us, perhaps, or from connecting with the wisdom inherent in each one of us…
What does the present moment consist of, after all? Isn't it simply one breath, linked to another, and another until we've breathed our way through a rough situation, or pleasant time on the mat, or a night of deep rest. So.. when life is challenging, and you feel you can’t endure something for much longer, I invite you to come back to your breath. Pause... Direct the mind to the movement of breath, in and out. In and out of your body. Cultivate an awareness of how breath moves in your body. Where is it moving? Why is it moving? How does it feel? Then… take a moment to express gratitude for your breath. Breath - the universal energy that animates, heals, and holds you throughout this lifetime.
Ahhhhh… The breath. Nourishing us as this spring snow is nourishing the earth. Enjoy it! ~Namaste.
Sharon Harvey Alexander is an Advanced Yoga Teacher, Yoga Therapist, and Health, Wellness, and Lifestyle Consultant in Boulder, CO. www.MountainWisdomYoga.com