Published May 16, 2017
By Lynda Shadbolt
In my 20 years of learning about yoga, I have come to understand that every style and every teacher has his or her own focus for the practice. I have always really enjoyed learning from all of it. Yoga has never just been about my physical body. It has been just as much about my mind and the power that the mind has and what that can create in my body and in my relationships.
And I would suggest that different yoga styles and focuses are relevant in certain periods of our lives. What we need in our 20s from a yoga practice can be different from what we need in our 50s or 60s or older. In my recent retreat to Guatemala I gained a much deeper appreciation for the pause in between the poses. I found myself considering the idea that the pause is often more important than the pose itself. It is in these quiet, still moments in between each pose that we can reflect on what has just happened and really connect with the “raw data” of our bodies and our minds. In many ways the quiet, still pauses are the antidote to the busyness and stress of our lives.
It is in the pause that the nervous system can reset and adjust and settle down. The teachers and I had talked about the stresses of our lives getting held in our bones, organs, muscles, tendons and ligaments and over a period of years of stress our bodies can get worn down and tired. And of course the idea is that we learn to hang out and observe ourselves in these quiet pauses in a yoga class, and then take that skill into our everyday lives. On a regular basis take a few moments to pause.
We all have stressful situations that come to us in our family, workplaces and in the community. Sometimes there may not be quick solutions. What the yoga practice would suggest is that we all need to pause on a regular basis. Stop and be still and just let the body become quiet. That in itself is going to be helpful for the nervous system and the mind. The pause is like a mini meditation where we just feel all the layers of our being and we notice our breath. We might soften our ears and listen. We might relax our jaw that holds so much tension for most of us.
We might realize that we need a nap, or need to ask for help. The pause encourages the mind to settle. And then we can respond to the situation with more clarity. The yoga I did in Guatemala was very slow (the speed of a turtle) with lots of pauses. I found it incredibly challenging but I left feeling calmer and less fearful and that is not only a gift for me, but for my family and friends and co-workers. It wasn’t what I expected when I signed up for the retreat, but it was what I needed. Perhaps the world needs more pauses.