Yield to the Present

There’s a sign at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, as you first wind onto the land, that invites us to “Yield to the Present.” For me, the sign always brings a chuckle, along with a sigh of relief and a feeling of coming home. At the same time, I remember that yielding can be difficult — to land in the present moment can require a surprising amount of practice, time, and kindness.

Today, I practiced this feeling of arriving home in my bones. Literally in the bones, with elemental movement of the spine. As another BMC student put it: “to allow the mind to not know, so the body can remember.” How can I possibly explain this in a blog? As a yoga pose, what we did would look like slowly turning the head from side to side in while lying on the belly… but that’s only the form, not the content.

The content was to yield, before moving. Yielding tension in the thoracic spine. Yielding the goal, in favor of the movement. Letting go, letting go, letting go. When the mind rushes ahead, draw it back into the body now. Find support in the hands to counter the movement, a support that doesn’t require hardening or tension.

You know I teach restorative yoga. I also practice restorative yoga to cultivate the habit of relaxing deeply. It’s no accident that I love a form that invites the parasympathetic nervous system into the room. A long, supported savasana. A restorative inversion. Another teacher once described teaching restorative yoga to me as “putting the baby to bed.” Your nervous system relaxes; my nervous system relaxes. Long, slow, smooth exhale.

Now… exhale that stillness into the slowest vinyasa, lying on the belly and turning the head. Learn to abandon ambition in the body, and instead embody the calm spine in motion.

To be continued, and continued….

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