Self-Sufficient Yogi?

Posted on October 27th, 2012 by in Wake-Up Call, Words from the Wise

Jennifer Reis teaching at Kripalu; Photo Courtesy of Stephanie Leeds

The other day at the end of a vinyasa yoga class I did my usual thing of plopping down and gearing up for Savasana with no blanket or sweater to get warm and cozy. Being in a large, chilly room, I knew that I might need extra warmth but paid no mind. The teacher prompted us to “Take this time to allow the hard work to land, and nurture your self in resting pose.” Upon hitting the deck and doing my utmost to actually get comfortable—doing a brief body scan to relax myself—I lay there wondering why my need to be self-sufficient had, yet again, left me bare-skinned and frigid, trying to relax my shivering bones into Corpse pose.

Being somewhat small in stature, and a good-natured vata/pitta, my tendency is to be high energy and cold most of the time. Andrew started to walk around the room, his soothing voice gently guiding the group into a restful state, and asked anyone who might want a blanket to raise their hand. I pondered his offer and observed myself as I refused to raise my hand, even though I was chilly and unable to settle comfortably into Savasana.

My mind was racing: I always do this, I thought. I thwart an opportunity for help to maintain my self-sufficiency, but at the end of the day, I’m lying in Savasana, freezing and tense. This is not conducive to relaxing and allowing the effects of the class to sink in. I wonder what it is about me that refuses assistance? I giggled a bit as I contemplated this aspect of my character.

After about 30 seconds of inhaling and exhaling into my dirgha pranayama and attempting to let go and relax my body, I felt a light, warm breeze sweep over me. A blanket brushed slowly overhead and started to land on me gingerly. I realized that our teacher, with no prompting, had somehow channeled my subtle yogic anguish and decided that, although I didn’t raise my hand, I needed a blanket anyway. He spread the blanket over my body and gently folded the top of it under my chin. Within a moment, I was warm and comfortable, and quite moved by the gesture. This is yoga, I realized. The entire process of witnessing, accepting, and then being offered solace in my practice, evoked a greater wisdom for me.

Eyes closed, I offered a huge smile in gratitude. I allowed my body to release and I felt enveloped by warmth that went beyond the physical. I was overcome by an awareness of interconnectedness and a sense of community, and I realized that delicate tears were welling in the corner of my eyes. The wisdom in self-awareness, in participating in a community—a greater whole—of being willing to accept help, permeated my being.

Yes, I’m a cheeseball, the type who might cry at a dog food commercial or swerve into oncoming traffic when a chipmunk darts into the road, but there is something deeply inspiring about one human being caring for another, even in the subtlest of ways.

As I rested, I thought about what the teacher had said—how we must take the time to practice self-care—and how I must allow the effort of being a stubborn, self-sufficient yogi to dissolve into openness and surrender. This work—on the mat, resting, in a roomful of people—can ignite profound change. Yoga can move mountains. Sometimes all it takes is a blanket.

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About Kimberly Jordan Allen

Kimberly is a writer, editor, and content strategist with twelve years of experience. Her areas of expertise include lifestyle, health and wellness, environmental issues, and the mind-body-spirit connection. Kimberly crafts communication strategies that integrate traditional, web, and social content to ignite, engage, and mobilize. Her work has appeared in Berkshire Magazine, The Huffington Post, E/The Environmental Magazine, Rural Intelligence, Shape, Organic Consumers Association, and Beliefnet. Kimberly is one of the founding contributors of Eco Chick, a website for hip, environmentally conscious women. Eco Chick has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor, USA Today, Grist, Treehugger, Glamour, Self, and Elle.com. She is currently the Digital Content Editor at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health. You can find her tweeting @kimjordanallen.
  • Valerie

    Aw! I love this. I speaks to that tenderness of tending each others’ humanness–to teach us how we may better tend our own. Lovely.

    • KripaluEditor

      Hi Valerie,
      Thanks for your comment!
      Isn’t it amazing how simple gestures can be so profound?
      Best to you,
      Kim from Kripalu

  • Vicky

    It is beautiful to be cared for and we are beings that crave attention from each other for a reason, we need it. Thank you for sharing your vulnerability, your stubborness it softens all of us.

    • KripaluEditor

      Hi Vicky,
      Thanks so much for your comment. Attentiveness is a key part of feeling connected!
      Warmly,
      Kim from Kripalu

  • http://www.facebook.com/JustinCambria Justin Cambria

    It took me a long while of practicing in yoga classes to get over how I thought I was being seen by other people in the classes. My ego can be a very subtle but still all consuming force – the desire for self will and toughness can express itself in many ways, and something as silly as asking for a blanket could definitely make me feel vulnerable in front of a yoga class. Not saying your ego was the driving force here, but I can relate.

    • KripaluEditor

      Justin,
      Thanks for taking the time to comment. Ego certainly plays a big part in our experiences, on and off the mat. We all need help sometimes and yoga allows me to be closer to a sense of personal truth and honesty than any other practice. When I am honest, I can accept that it is OK to need support and to not know everything. There is something about being in your body—through asana, meditation, and breath—that is powerful and poignant.
      Kim from Kripalu

  • Mobile

    it is so nice and again i will request to admin that please share such types of more posts Mobile

  • Mary Lewis

    Oh, soooooooo me. Did I ever need to read this. Thank you.

    • KripaluEditor

      Thanks for reading, Mary!