Why can’t I sit still?
….Because you’re at the beginning and it feels good to do something, anything. Sitting, on the other hand, feels lazy and counterproductive. We equate movement with progress and doing. We want to feel like things are happening. Even if we don’t know where we’re going, we want to go.
But let me ask you something: What’s the hardest/most challenging thing you can do on a yoga mat? No really. What’s the ultimate?
If you’ve taken my classes, you know the answer: SAVASANA. At the end of class I ask you to lay down, close your eyes and just be - to resist the urge to fidget and notice the rhythm of your breath. This also shows up in legs up the wall. Either way, in both positions there’s nothing left for you to do. Laying on your back, doing nothing and yet everything at the same time is arguably the whole point. So why is it so damn hard?
Osho talks about yoga as preparation for death.’ Wait what?! What kind of blog is this? Annette, are you ok?’ Listen, I know this shit sounds morbid as hell, but stay with me. If yoga prepares us for death then we understand why sitting feels a lot like dying and so we resist. Immediately there’s a panic to get busy (you know the line - “Get busy living or get busy dyin’ - come on Shawshank, come on Morgan Freeman). We resist. We make up things to do. We try to be and do more just because it’s instinct.
When I tell you that there is nothing left for you to do at the end of class, re-hear that. Say it again. “There is nothing left for me to do.” No grocery list, no big agenda, no obligations, nothing. I often say this to myself at the end of a day. I remind myself to put it all down. I practice letting go. Currently, I suck at it. So I practice more. I practice a deep exhale when I feel anxious. I practice sitting still for a moment in the morning. I practice turning off the music from time to time. I want to be able to say “There’s nothing left for me to do,” when my time actually comes.
Do something with me right now. It doesn’t matter where you are. Clear your space and have a seat. Take a big breath in (at least 4 counts). Now take a big breath out (more like 6 counts). Do about 5 rounds of this. What does it feel like on the exhale? What does it feel like when you let go? For me it feels like a wash of calm. It feels soothing and peaceful. It feels like the tension in my body is starting to dissipate. It feels like something I want more of, not less. When I take my last exhale, I want the same, to be at peace.
All of these things are connected. If you struggle to sit still in savasana I would ask you where else you struggle to sit still? What else are you holding onto so tightly that the mere thought of stillness creates anxiety? People talk about wanting to do “advanced” yoga pose and stick their foot behind their head for the gram, but what if I told you the real flex was sitting on your ass? Could you do it? Could you let go?
You struggle because you’re at the beginning. When you’re ready to slow down is when you’re ready to do the work. I want you to know that I’m trying really hard not to type a bunch of hallmark quotes right now, but you can stand to hear just one. Life can’t fully be grasped until we are at peace with its end.
What does this have to do with stretching and breathing? What does this have to do with sports and working out. That answer is simple: EVERYTHING. Holding on to anything, keeps you from living. And your truest potential is in the living. Know that practicing stillness is the key to being more alive.
Have the most amazing day,
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