Live Life with Grace
What is grace?
And where do I get some?
I have been captivated by the word ‘grace’ for a few years now. Both the idea of having grace and the physicality of being graceful. The more I study grace the more I realize that they are the same thing – that to be ‘grace-ful’ is to be ‘full of grace’.
I am always working with my clients on proper posture, I consider it so important to stand, and move, with what I can only call grace. I often remind them during an exercise that ‘at this point’ (usually full extension), the judges are watching. The image I have in my head is that of a gymnastics competition, specifically the dismount, where the competitor stands solid and quiet, arms held aloft, in a position of victory, to show the judges just how amazing they are. This is grace.
The other image is that of the ballerina, posing with every millisecond of movement, every muscle in her body held taut, right down to her fingers, to be as aesthetically beautiful as possible. It can take months or even years, depending on the initial mind-body connection and conditioning, before my clients truly understand what it feels like, what it means to be, fully in the movement.
A great example of this is the one-leg deadlift, or Warrior III (Virabhadrasana III). It is a fairly tricky balance pose but it looks pretty darn simple. All you have to do is tilt your body forward and lift one leg up behind you – and hold. At the beginning, most of my clients have trouble just staying upright on one foot, let alone moving in to a pose. I’ve also modified this into a moving pose that I call ‘Dunking Bird’ after those plastic toys birds that dunk in and out of a glass of water. But I digress…
The point is that this pose, as with most yoga poses, is made much easier by using every muscle in the body. You can get into the pose and hang out, letting your leg and foot and arms droop, and not thinking about your belly. But there is no grace in that, no beauty, and no stamina.
Instead, I get my clients to focus on flexing their lifted foot, pushing down through the hamstrings and pulling up through their quads. Driving their hands backwards and reaching through their finger tips – sending energy towards the back wall. Finally, the back of the neck is long and straight, the eyes looking down, the chest lifted and open.
What a difference this makes! Instead of struggling with a pose, my client is now breathing fully and owning a pose that moments before had owned them. Not only that but they are surrendering to gravity and to the capabilities of their own body. Their is no right and perfect way – there is only effort, surrender and grace.
And this is how life feels when we have formed our intention and asked for grace. We are using every part of our being to move with strength, but we are also soft and surrendered to circumstances we cannot control.
That is grace.