Alignment

Often when I step into my daughter’s room hoping to connect with my growing teen, instead I focus on the dirty dishes on her floor and dresser, dirt and food wrappers under her desk, and clothes scattered over every surface. So rarely do I just see her, the joyful and creative spirit she is. Instead, I see the wake of what she’s left behind and in doing so I align myself to the frustration of what I wish were, and resist accepting what is.

Too often, I align with resistance in my life. When I first began practicing yoga, I discovered pictures of poses performed by lithe models on magazine covers and in books, and undertook the task of fixing my body into the alignment I saw before me. Never mind that my body was not at all like the people I saw pictured; I wanted to look like what I interpreted as a “perfect” pose.  Though I now account for human variation on the mat, I still get tripped up and find myself aligning to imagesof a pose, a yoga practitioner, a yoga teacher, a yoga studio owner. While I don’t necessarily know it in the moment, when I align myself to an image that has nothing to do with my own integrated wholeness, I certainly feel it in body, mind, and spirit after. I’d call this feeling resistance.

I’ve been giving a lot thought recently to the question, what if the experience of resistance is offering me an opportunity to realign to a position that my body and mind can accept with greater ease? While I don’t believe my yoga practice or life in general is always easy, can’t I, shouldn’t I, still uncover ease? When I pay attention, listen deeply, and work with steady attention on the mat, I am better aware of the experience of acceptance and resistance in my body. And if I’m patient when I feel resistance, I can realign so that my body and mind can better accept the place I’m in. Sometimes the willingness to surrender to even a slight adjustment is all that’s needed in order to experience acceptance.

What’s the point of any of these observations, though, if it doesn’t lead me toward a more unified and clear alignment in my life off the mat? Can I translate integrated alignment into a way of being in the world that generates ease and well-being for both myself and those around me? I have experienced that when I’m clearly aligned with my core values, others stand with more ease and better alignment around me. Aligning well with my core values feels a lot like standing in a well aligned mountain pose–I feel steady and firmly grounded, yet at ease, with flexibility and room for change.

Recently, I’ve been trying to align more with my daughter just as she is. Just last week, she handed me a poem that gave me an inkling into how she sees herself, and made me question, what would my own ‘I am’ be? Maybe alignment is as simple and as hard as answering that question.

 

I am
by Ava Joyce

I am curious and joyful.

I wonder what I should be when I grow up.

 

I hear the voices of the birds.

I see how I can change the world.

I want to have a happy future.

I am curious and joyful.

 

I pretend I am the wind blowing through the trees.

I feel joy when I am with my friends.

I reach for the fluffiest cloud.

I worry about my life ahead.

I cry when I miss people I love.

 

I understand how to be a good person.

I say, try and be your best.

I dream about working in a coffee shop.

I try and work hard.

I hope to be kind to everyone.

I am curious and joyful.

 

Photo by Javier Allegue Barros on Unsplash