Friday, October 12, 2007

Ease and "The Rug"


There's a yoga pose called easy pose. The Sanskrit name is sukhasana. The root is the word sukha...ease or happiness, contentment. Easy pose is simply sitting in a comfortable cross-legged position. For dogs this pose could be translated to lying down and hanging out on the mat. Most of them are doing this by the end of class anyway, so it's not a challenging pose to get them into.
There's a dog student I have named Lucy. Lucy is a retired show dog. A large Russian wolfhound. She's as gentle as she is enormous. I've never even heard her bark. Lucy was christened with the nickname "The Rug", after a photographer friend of mine noticed that in every picture she took of the class she was shooting Lucy never moved. Throughout the entire class no matter what her person or anyone else was doing, Lucy stayed the same. Her doggy sukhasana. Lying down, completely relaxed, long, white fur splayed out around her, eyes half open. Her owner, Lynn, an accomplished yogi could be doing anything around Lucy and she would continue to lie there, relaxed and content, "The Rug".
Lynn also brings Lucy to the Yoga studio where I teach people classes. While Lynn is in class Lucy takes her same sukhasana on the couch in the lobby. Eyes half open, fur splayed out. Sometimes she sighs. But mostly she stays in a Buddha-like state with her calm, watchful gaze. Not a care in the world. People, students walk by and talk to Lucy, pet her, sit next to her (although she doesn't leave a lot of room for company on the couch), she just hangs out. Letting life happen. Sukha, ease. Sometimes she sighs and an eye or two will open to thoughtfully survey the room, but always contentment.
When we allow ease into our yoga practice and into our lives we can become like Lucy being calm and watchful as activity whirls around us. When we can approach life with this kind of ease, it takes the pressure off. It's like taking a deep breath or like Lucy sighing as she lies on the couch while people walk by. She's acknowledging them but not getting caught up and being influenced by their presence or actions.
When we bring this kind of ease into our lives we're no longer struggling, forcing. We can be more relaxed and in touch with what we want and interact in a positive way with people around us. When we try to force things, we get stressed out and that tightens everything up around us. Physically, energetically. When we practice ease, it's taking that deep breath, the shoulders come down away from the ears and the jaw stops clenching. Being as unaffected as "The Rug" lying peacefully in the center of the room, a calm presence. We can approach life's ups and downs with ease and a big lovely sigh of contentment, knowing everything is just as it's supposed to be.

Yoga With Your Dog sequence for ease

Puppy Play Pose vinyasa


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