By Rosie Moreton, Summersalt Yoga teacher
In talking to surfers who spend a large amount of time on the water riding the waves, for some of them the magic is in the catching of the wave, the surge of adrenalin and excitement that comes with gliding along the water. But for some, it’s also the spaces in between the waves, where they are sitting and feeling and looking when they feel most at peace, they feel the magic. This is when they are most connected to the largeness of life.
This is how I feel in those pauses on my yoga mat when I come to the top of my mat or rest my forehead on the ground into a child’s pose. When everything is able to integrate, to be absorbed, to settle into my bones. My nervous system is soothed, my breath slows down, my thoughts dwindle, returning to that feeling of just feeling, and being.
The ebb is the outgoing phase when the tide drains away from the shore; and the flow is the incoming phase when the water rises again. Both are equally necessary for a balanced sense of health and vitality. To release, and then refill. We need the balance between push and the pull, the effort and the ease, the yin, and the yang.
In fact, we create space in our bodies and our minds by moving in both directions. We inhale to lengthen and create space in our physical bodies, and we exhale to sink further into a pose, to twist deeper, to fold inward, to open outward. Mentally, we push in both directions when we struggle with our thoughts, when we feel positive than negative, frustrated then uplifted, emotional then clear-headed. Then we start to see the equalizing space between the push and the pull, or the positivity and the negativity, and we notice that we have the choice to rest in that space for a little longer each time, and this is our practice. When we discover that we can be at ease with ourselves in this present moment, without looking forwards or backward.
Think about your breath. When you breathe in deeply, is your breath smooth and rhythmic, or is it jagged and ragged? Notice the pauses at the top of your inhale. Notice the pauses at the bottom of your exhale. Rest easy in these spaces for a brief moment and enjoy them, without thinking about what comes next. The fullness at the top of the inhale. The emptiness at the bottom of the exhale. There is a space of stillness and quiet at our very center, and when we get very quiet we can see it, hear it and feel it, and then we start to realize that it is always available to us, behind all of the external pressures and stress, beneath any transitory emotions or sensations in our bodies or minds. The foundation of all of these things is stillness and silence, and it is always there if we can get quiet enough to hear it. The fluidity of our emotions and our situation is inevitable, but there is an earth-like quality that lies beneath it.
Find ease in your breath. Ease in your practice. Ease in your daily life. To go with the tide doesn’t mean to give up, it means to flow with the natural rhythm of life without forcing anything unnatural – breath, movement, words, actions. It means to do what comes naturally and to do what comes from our very center. To ebb and flow, to go fast, then slow, and to rest in the spaces between.