Last week I had lunch with an old friend. We worked together about 20 years ago and as we were reminiscing and catching up, she mentioned she had also seen another old colleague on her NY visit. I was reminded of the compassion I had felt for this colleague so long ago when we all worked together. I remember thinking that she was someone who was looking for the outside world to make her happy inside; she hadn’t connected to her internal light. I was sad to hear that the situation seemed very much the same today, 20 years later. This information served as a reminder that inside each of us lives the power we need to make ourselves happy. It’s called Sukha Shakti; translated as radical happiness.
On our mats this week I asked my students to use their Yoga practice to connect to the energy and light that lives inside each of them. It takes space in the mind to connect to our Sukha Shakti; that is what Yoga can offer.
As we began our Asana practice, I asked my students to remember their true practice; to feel and connect to their Sukha Shakti and not to worry so much about the physical poses but rather the energy building within them. Sun Salutations began the work of waking up this radical energy.
As we flowed from high lunge into balancing and then explored Bakasana, I reminded the students not to “get in their own way” in their minds but instead to feel their Shakti–their happiness– that lives inside them all the time. On the mat and off we can be harsh critics of ourselves. This creates heaviness and can dampen our internal light. We can convince ourselves we can’t do something and the more we practice releasing that pattern of thought on the mat, the more adept we are to do the same off the mat.
Shakti becomes stronger as burdens and heaviness begin to release. As we surrender tension and heaviness, we open the channels for energy to flow and find a deeper connection to our light. I visualize Shakti to be our internal Sun. It is always there, sometimes the sun is harder to see…covered by clouds or stormy weather and sometimes it shines bright. Unlike the cosmic sun, with our own internal one; we can control the weather.
We played with inversions at the wall to find a deeper opening in the shoulders. Some explored forearm stand and others handstand but it wasn’t about the pose. Again I tasked them with connecting to their lightness and what better way to move energy than to be upside down.
From there we moved to ankle to knee pose and pigeon to find space in the hips. We used props to explore a deep heart opening in Urvdha Dhanurasana (upward bow pose) as a way to begin to shine this energy outward and then we slowed down and came into our final rest.
As the students lay still in Savsana, I began to think again about this woman who seems to have “gotten in her own way”. I still feel compassion for her and wish I could send some of my Shakti her way. Even more than that, I hope she can find a practice that gives her the chance to connect to the happiness that is already inside her.
As we sat in final meditation, we found a moment of gratitude; Gratitude for our practice on the mat, Gratitude for the opportunity to bring the practice off the mat and Gratitude for the Sukha Shakti within all of us. Namaste.