Honoring Simplicity in Life

By Erika Halweil, December, 2007

If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough”Albert Einstein

This quote reminds me of how Jessica’s son, Jack, once described Vrksasana (tree pose). He advised all eager practitioners to “bring one foot up and keep the other one on the ground.” His instruction was so clear and direct and, in many ways, made the experience of the pose more accessible. Could it be possible that with all of our years of practice and study and exploration, we have actually taken ourselves further from our natural yogic state – a state of deliciously vibrant, yet receptive, fullness? Have we searched, so fervently, for the right teacher, the appropriate book, the body-changing diet, the most appealing lifestyle that all we’ve actually done is further confused and distracted ourselves? Or is it just that excessive information and unnecessary clutter is so familiar that it inevitably finds its way into the sacred space of our yoga practice?

Now, it would appear that the longer you have been practicing, the more study and the more inquisition, the more complicated the practice might become. Somewhere along this journey, the description of tree pose became a whirlwind of body parts, each with its own direction and instruction, each working in opposition to, but also in combination with every other. And yet, at its very core, Vrksasana is still, “one foot up and one foot down.” So, how can we delve deeper, how can we explore the subtlety, without loosing the gift of the simplicity of the practices of yoga, each asana, each breath, each sound vibration.

Perhaps, all we need to do is lighten up on the details. Reduce the instruction to the physical body to the bare minimum – give ourselves an opportunity to move beyond the physical, and eventually, feel the affects the physical practice has on the more subtle koshas (layers or sheaths) of the human body. Through practicing simplicity we could begin to notice how every action, every movement could become a part of our practice. Every second is another chance to infuse this moment with a complete breath, an open and welcoming heart and an inquisitive, yet un-tethered mind. Perhaps it is this appreciation for simplicity that allows for clarity of thought and freedom from the confines of the mind.

Erika Halweil

Erika Halweil is a New York native who focuses on Patanjali's classical system of Ashtanga Yoga.

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