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Effort and Ease: A reflection of June’s theme

Hello curious person


We have spent the month exploring the theme of Effort and Ease or Yin and Yang. It started as Yin and Yang but I slowly transitioned to talking more about Effort and Ease as the weeks progressed. Why? I felt, in my exploration, that it was easier to connect to the poses and to life off the yoga mat.


First, let me go a little further back, so I can paint a full picture of where this idea came from. I was watching some training videos on yin yoga. It was probably one or two sentences said by the lead teacher that inspired this whole thing. He was talking about how a little bit of yang (effort) exists in all the yin (ease) poses. I immediately paused the video and started thinking about how that shows up in my everyday life. I can honestly say that I’ve not been back to this training course since this moment because I wanted the time to explore this.


From there, it evolved into a practice on my mat. How can we explore these two qualities? Well, I thought about exploring a flow and then slow right down to practise some slow, long stretches. This became the first spark of what June was going to look like. It was quite literally inspired by style of yoga (I’m not even sure if this is popular anymore) called Yinyasa or Yang/Yin – not very original right now.


This is where the magic started to happen though. I started to delve into building a sequence that wasn’t too up and down – something I don’t necessarily like about a traditional vinyasa style. I settled on a standing sequence that includes a lot of (my favourite) balances as well as some forward folds and backward bends. This sequence allowed me to explore the ease within the effort by encouraging people to explore the shapes and by adding in pause points where someone could spend a few extra breaths. I then ended the practice with poses that represented ease and gave me time to explore effort within ease.


It was time to teach it then. I’m super proud of how it turned out. Over four weeks, we learnt the sequence, shifted our focus to ease, shifted our focus to effort (that was sweaty) and then found our own practice within the sequence. The flow, with a few option edits, stayed the same every week to allow us to practise in alignment to the theme. Different long, stretchy poses showed up at the end of class and creeped into relaxation if the individual chose to. 


What was the whole point of this? This is the first time I’ve ever deconstructed my approach to a class. It felt particularly special this month because it felt like it landed better than it ever has before (in my opinion). This four-week process gave me time (in my life and in my classes) to unpack that effort and ease co-exist. They’re present in every single moment of life and, when we connect with them, they can become tools to help and support the passage through life. We can learn to lean into one or the other dependant on what is happening in the moment.


I think that’s so special. If you take anything away from this, whether you’re reading this post or you practised with me, think about these two qualities over the next couple of weeks.


Think about how moments of effort show up in your life and if you can find a little sliver of ease. Think of how moments of ease show up in your life and if you can find a little slice of effort. They’re there. There might be better words for different situations but they’re there in the big things we do and the little things. Whether it’s a tense moment at work or you’re laying on the sofa, have a think about effort and ease.


Thank you, thank you so much for taking the time to read this


Sam


 


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