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Mar 2014

Greetings yoga friends -

I thought this was going to be a simple little yoga inspiration. 

My mum sent me a link to a beautiful painting she was admiring recently at a gallery in London. Actually more than admiring - genuinely moved by. The original fresh and richly toned watercolor, alive with so much movement, brought her vividly back to childhood memories of sailing off the American East Coast with her parents, invigorated after long childhood illness by the ocean and wind. 

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For a while I have been wondering how to describe an approach to yoga practice that avoids the limits of goal setting, yet engages us deeply with life's challenges. And a mantra has emerged into my own life - whether I am being buffeted by a particularly strong emotion or falling again and again trying an arm balance. The phrase "Leaning Into The Wind".

There it is. A super short, sweet little newsletter. Inspirational.

But darn. At the back of my mind there is a niggly-little-voice that tells me that, well, actually, the keeling-over wooden sailing yacht is NOT leaning into the wind. As you can read from the little pennant stiffly flying from the top of the mast, the wind is blowing from the right side, and the boat is leaning away from its force.

I think it's the same niggly-little-voice that notices me resisting the details in a yoga posture. Sometimes I just want to cruise into the asana sequence. I want to feel the yummy flow of energy liberating me from my thoughts, from my stuck places. Does it really matter if, in Triangle Pose, the back thigh is externally or internally rotating? I just want to feel. Isn't this supposed to be a spiritual practice?? Do I really have to step out of this comfortably familiar place of my thoughts - the place of imagining the world through my assumptions, uninterrupted by having to notice its actual nature???

Yup.

So I look at the gorgeously surging sail boat again and I admit, it's not leaning into the wind. And yet it's somehow not just going with the flow either. What is it doing? Actually?

Two things. In the teeth of the wind, it is still holding its own shape. It is not letting go of taught canvas and allowing the wind to spill out and be wasted. And - it is choosing its own direction. Rather than following the blunt power of the gale, pressed wily nily out of control, its keel and rudder carve through the water with intention.

Maybe this is sometimes our truth. The challenges of life - sickness, accidents, relationship breakdowns - sometimes they are overwhelming. We can't simply press against them. They knock us down. But perhaps...

If we can hold onto something of our own shape, our own practice, our own values, our ability to still love and feel compassion - and if we can make some attempt to still point our nose somewhere in the direction of our dreams...

- we can still Run Before The Wind

Namaste - Eugene

p.s. my mum read this in advance, and commented the important detail that the artist, Montague Dawson, titled his painting "The Wind That Follows." As she said - "We might think that life and it's events are leading and controlling us when actually if we have a deep set of values that allow us to cut through the discouragement, the loss of faith in life and just believe that at the end, there is good, we cut a path of our own, reaching for the ultimate good.  And life, like the wind, follows."