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Lions Roar : September 2010
50 SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2010 Pairs of yogis face each other, press their palms together, and shyly bow their heads. Wearing baggy sweat pants and sexy yoga tops, bike shorts and faded T-shirts ad- vertising local breweries, they are somehow all transformed into elegant beings in this moment—their generosity shin- ing out toward each other. Then they laugh, slap a high five or share a shoulder squeeze, and return to their yoga mats for the rest of the class. They’ve just finished a part- nering exercise and are feeling pretty exhilarated. Without exception, everyone who participates in part- ner yoga is a cheerleader. They say things like: Yes! Push your feet into the wall. Keep breathing—don’t worry, I’ve got you. That’s great! You almost got up today. Do you want to come down now? Okay, good. Let’s take a rest. When one partner drops down and folds into a resting pose, the oth- er partner gives them a friendly back rub. i’ve seen this scenario repeated many times during my fifteen years of full-time yoga teaching, and it always warms my heart. it seems natural and easy for yoga stu- dents to open to their partners, and it brings to mind what one of my favorite Buddhist teachers once said, “at the end of the day, the true measure of our practice is how much we can open to others.” remembering this, i think to myself, why is it so difficult to open to ourselves? it is fairly typical to feel resentful, or at least annoyed, when we’re faced with obstacles. a common response is to blame another person. for instance, “i’m tired because my husband snores,” or “i’m fat because my kids like to eat ice cream,” or “Everyone in my family has tight hamstrings and that’s why i can’t do yoga... or anything.” The list goes on. as meditators, we cultivate awareness of these blam- ing thoughts. We notice them, label them as thinking, and practice letting them go and coming back to now. We have learned that we always have options regarding how to respond to rising irritation, and we like to think that we might make a positive choice, one that involves relaxing and resting in openness—no other response necessary. yet i’ve noticed that when it’s our own body that is the source of discomfort and irritation, we often get frus- trated or critical and simply give up on finding a middle Make Friends With Your Body On or off the meditation cushion, we can be friends with our body—just the way it is. Yoga teacher Cyndi Lee shows us how to sit with relaxation and ease.