Annie Carpenter

Have you ever heard Annie say “and if you’re new to yoga, so you’ve only been practicing for 10 years or so…”?

I remember the first few times I heard that and a packed room of sweaty yogis, pushing themselves in some way, suddenly softened and smiled. There is a comfort in knowing you are not alone in your efforting, but also that there is no rush. That we are all beginners in a certain sense, and in each coming moment, and there’s a softness that comes with that.

I’ve been carrying this idea with me as I embark on my tenth year of practicing yoga, and it has created great ease, and ultimately some needed space, for growth. The growth is not happening in my asana practice either, but in the quieter parts of my practice. And I can’t help but wonder if that’s because I set “the rush” off to the side.

It feels like there are several aspects of our lives that we rush. “Doctor, I’ve taken antibiotics for two whole days so I don’t understand why my cold hasn’t gone away?”, “Darling, we’ve been dating for four months and I just need to know where this is going already…”, or perhaps the more common in yoga class these days, “Teacher, why can’t I hold handstand in the middle of the room yet? It’s been a whole month of trying!” What is the rush? And why are we in such a hurry if we know that the rushing keeps us from the present moment?

Okay, so slow down, I get it … but what about that quiver in your quad in Virabhadrasana II? That determination and drive that cultivates great fire? Well we need that too, and that’s where we can create great change. We can look to SmartFLOW as a guide to this balance: Smart (structurally sound, longer holds for strength, with clear and specific instructions, steady elegant breathing) balances the FLOW (juicy flowing sequences, heat-building krama, sensation-driven focus, grace and flexibility). Which part of the scale do you find yourself? Are you all flow these days, or all smart? The dance between the two is the inquiry and in cultivating that ability to inquire within, where we may discover ourselves. This is where we find great peace and light. In the pause, where no rush is needed.

I invite you to find peace in your very place on this journey. Wherever that may be in this very moment. And I hope you invite your practice – whatever your speed – into your 2015 life as an ongoing and ever-changing guide.