By Tressa Vazquez, 200 HR E-RYT
This time of year it is hard not to ponder freedom. When I think about freedom I think back to 2010 when I was completing my yoga teacher training. One of the things we talked about often (or one of the things that stuck in my mind) was using your practice as a way to ground down, plug into grace and find freedom. This was a looking glass that allowed me to assess the many pieces of what I was learning. And so I share it with you this practice; ground down, plug into grace, find freedom.
Initially you can begin this by bringing it into your asana practice. How often are you in a posture and find yourself struggling to balance, tiring through your muscles, or having a wandering mind? What can you do? Breathe. When you begin to connect back to your breath that focus grounds your mind. With a grounded mind the practitioner has the ability to focus on the alignment and the deeper workings of the physical pose. It is then that you can find stillness. When your body and mind are still you can allow your energy to soften into the grace of the moment. Grace, the unspoken softness that unfolds when you connect into the present moment, breathe and allow yourself to sink into the energy that surrounds you, allow your energy to merge into that energy. As you soften into that grace you create space and with space you have freedom. On the mat that freedom comes in the form of a more fully expressed asana, a calm mind and a steady breath.
After you practice this process on your mat, like many mat lessons it becomes available off of your mat. Whether you are exploring something that ails you, looking at habits, relationships, or any other array of scenarios. How do you root yourself? What connects you? Is it your practice, meditation, being in nature, seeing live music, spending time with family and friends? Do that. Breathe. Connect back to your breath. When you ground into the present moment you relax back into grace. That same grace that is the energy in your practice. The air of grace is subtle and nurturing, hard to put into words. It’s that assurance that the bigger picture has you in it and from this connected place we can move and operate more fully. In the softness of that stillness, again there is space. And with space there is always freedom. Freedom to express, to create and define. Whatever the habit or scenario you find yourself in, physical, mental or emotional, when you can create space within it you can create new freedom.
I have always loved 4th of July, the summer, the time with friends and family, the idea of freedom. These days it’s most important for each of us to show up as our most true and compassionate selves. Ground down. Soften into grace. Find freedom. Through the process of creating freedom there is an innate claiming of responsibility to live into that space, to fill it up with your goodness, your truth, your fullest expression. When we can find freedom to be in our own lives we can encourage others to find their grace and freedom. Like a ripple in a pond that will keep passing. Then when we are truly free as individuals we can continue to make space for freedom in our communities and eventually our world. It starts on your mat and then it just keeps going.