Beginner’s Mind Opens Doors

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Image by WordGenius.com

I don’t always pay attention to the Word of the Day in my inbox. But fogbow really caught my eye. A fogbow? When I read the definition, my world was rocked.

Definition: A rainbow made of fog droplets; a white rainbow

A white rainbow!

How utterly cool. My mind opened and I wondered — what else I don’t know?

So. Many. Things.

I tried a new yoga studio yesterday and as I paid, the the yoga instructor asked if I have ever practiced yoga before. I said yes and he apologized and he told me this was a beginners class.

A beginners class…this would be an adventure in not being a know-it-all.

As I plopped on my mat, I knew an easy class was exactly what my body needed and before class even begun, I gave myself a challenge — to approach the next 60 minutes with a beginners mind.

It was so much a Level 1 that the teacher called downward dog “upside down V.” It had me remember my first few yoga classes and how much yoga has expanded my world.

What’s Beginners Mind?

It’s letting go of everything you think you know about something. It’s a great practice of dropping ego, dropping superiority, listening more and opening yourself up to learning something about a topic you presumably know a lot about.

Beginners mind is where the magic happens, because when we think we are knowledgeable on a topic, we often close ourselves off to deeper truths.

Mountain Pose

The instructor began class with mountain pose and told us to push our feet in to the ground, through the earth.

If you practice yoga, you know that rooting into the ground is a basic concept.

I pushed my feet down through the earth and straightened my spine, lifting my head to the heavens.

This pose looks easy, but it’s a very active pose. From the outside it may look like a yogi is doing nothing at all, but she is doing so much — aligning, stretching, breathing, pushing — all at once.

How often do we judge what someone is doing, simply by what we see? We are not privy to all the internal movements and adjustments a person is doing to make it appear so effortless.

The question remains in my life: How do I keep my heart open and be more compassionate to people, not knowing what is happening in their hearts and minds?

There’s always something to learn in this pose.

Breathing

I love that the instructor taught us how to breathe.

How simple, right? Notsomuch. What a perfect reminder.

He instructed us to breathe in through our nose and out through our mouth. Then he focused our attention on the sound of the exhale and shifted us to make that sound through our nostrils on the exhale.

Hmmmm hadn’t heard it taught that way before. I loved the breakdown and slowness of the steps.

A grounding breathing exercise to calm the nervous system is a great tool and I remembered I can use it anytime, anywhere.

Dog & Chaturanga

Holding downward dog for 5 full breaths was strenuous after a while. Especially since he talked a lot, and then started counting the 5 breaths. Geez — I thought his talking would count for some of the breaths! By the end of class, doing that for the umpteenth time, my arms were tired.

Patience is always something for me to learn.

And let me say that I had never been taught chaturanga like that — broken down in bite-sized digestible steps. Or if I had learned it, I forgot and the reminder was magical.

Chaturanga is an inch-wormy type pose used in a flow sequence and I never really got it.

To be honest, I generally gloss over it in class. I always have felt mildly unsuccessful in that pose and here I was — almost getting it.

Yeah, almost.

At the end of class, the instructor explained that a special word is used to signify the end of our yoga practice. It’s a Sanskrit word used to mean, The light in me bows to the light in you.

I loved that he explained this. I tried to remember how I felt when I heard this word for the first time — I couldn’t remember — it feels like I have always known this word.

I wondered who in the class was there for the first time. I felt honored to practice alongside them, feeling appreciative for how much my yoga practice has always brought me home to myself just when I really needed it most.

Namaste.

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Written by

Coach & Writer. Musings on being a woman, creator of Body Love, alchemist, mother, brendafredericks.com

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