Swimming upstream

Yoga as a way to relax into self-discovery


I was lying on my back during the visualization exercise. The teacher we brought in from Detroit had the “yoga teacher” voice; you know, the calm, quiet, melodious voice. I had just eaten a yummy lunch at Little Saigon and I was mildly distracted by the Thom Kha soup that was hanging around and my feet were cold. My feet being cold resulted in me coveting my friend’s toe socks. Eating before practice and coveting your neighbor are discouraged in yoga world. However, I had been hungry and my feet were cold!

So, I returned to listening to the melodious voice of the teacher and I heard her say something about imagining the body floating on a calm river. I immediately discuss (that is, had a discussion between the voices in my head) how ridiculous this is and how I don’t want to float in a river and how this is so not relaxing and then I jumped into how airy fairy all of this can become and BOOM! Suddenly, I have the thought “you are spending your life swimming upstream.” Out of nowhere, I have a vivid (too vivid) mental picture of me in a one-piece swimsuit (not looking so hot), rather frazzled, out of breath, struggling and exhausted. Let’s just say it is a good thing I was lying down. It’s just that kind of vision that will knock a girl off her feet.

After this momentary recognition, I settled into my body and relaxed – I didn’t unravel – just let loose a bit. Without recognizing it, I stopped swimming upstream and began floating on the proverbial river.

click to enlarge Ami Flammini
Ami Flammini
This teacher, Nancy McCochan, said during the weekend workshop that our yoga practice is an opportunity to recognize our habits on and off our yoga mat. The visualization practice not only gave my body time to digest my lunch, but it gave me the opportunity to reflect on how often I swim upstream. In my life this looks like trying too hard to fit in, caring too much about the opinion of other people (one of my mentors says what people think of me is none of my business), and resisting the reality of each moment – all a recipe for a frazzled-swimming-upstream-kind-of-life.

Asana practice (the practice of physical yoga postures; pronounced like ahh-suh-nuh) was originally developed to help prepare the body to sit in meditation. It stretches and strengthens and helps cultivate a focused mind. For most of us, it does more. On that particular Saturday, it opened the door for me to recognize how I often functioned in the world; and, in my case, recognizing I was swimming upstream.

Here’s to floating downstream in 2013!

Ami Flammini is the founder and one of the owners of Ahh Yoga on the Wabash curve in Springfield. She has a day job, an awesome husband, three g-o-r-g-e-o-u-s dogs and a passion for spreading the message that yoga is accessible to anyone. She is convinced if everyone practiced, the world would be a more peaceful and sane place. Ami can be reached at ami@ahhyoga.net and you can view the Ahh Yoga webpage at www.ahhyoga.net.

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