It is an extraordinary moment. Around me, I see those moving through life untouched by the turmoil in the world. I see others, devastated. I find myself fluctuating between the two. Fluctuating is the key word here. Flux is a substance used in metal joining (Attaching two metal pieces to form say, a ring). It has a function of purification which facilitates the yoking of the pieces together. The flux of my life is this moment of heat and challenge. That process of fluctuating is a purifying one, my doubts, my fears, my worries, my angers are brought to the surface and purged. In the moment that alchemical reaction is happening I have a choice. I can identify with the matter which is being expelled or I can release and let it go. To identify with it will move me away from yoga. To release it and keep doing the work – allows me to move deeper into the experience of alchemical strength. The joining of spirit and matter.
Forearm stand is the current focus of my personal practice. Each morning against the closed bathroom door, with an eye towards learning to balance in the center of the room, I lift, awkwardly into the position. The other day I was in a time crunch but wanted to honor my commitment to work on the posture every day. I flipped upside down and reached my foot back towards the door behind me to press against it and come back into balance and…the door swung open behind me. What followed was an inelegant dance of flailing limbs and indecision resulting in a sideways crash into two drums, an electronic keyboard and an altar (I have yet to ascend into the level of real estate which would allow me to have a separate room dedicated to my yoga practice).
But the glory is always there, the divine spark never leaves, and it surfaced a moment later when I picked myself up from the rubble, calmly said “ouch”, reordered the chaos in the belongings I’d crashed into, and then promptly took child’s posture. I just knew that any imbalances in my musculoskeletal system from the flailing would be rebalanced in steady breathing child’s pose. Here’s to agility. I don’t talk about it much, but I’m 57 years old (just a number of course), and I walked away from this without even a day of pain. It was all absorbed within minutes. This is the power of a well-balanced integrated yoga practice. Agility. Don’t try this at home! But just know that when we allow ourselves to go deep in the process of yoga, power emerges in the most unexpected and subtle ways.
The impact surfaced the next day in an interesting way. Pain? No. Restriction? No. Imbalance? No. But I was unable to lift into forearm stand. I couldn’t get off the ground at all.
“I guess, “ I thought, “this is what they mean by a setback.” I settled into another child’s posture and allowed myself to find peace with that, breathing, accepting, not judging. Then I proceeded to take headstand, a steady and confident posture for me. Had I forced myself to keep trying the forearm stand I would have gone into conquest. I want harmonious union, not conquest. So, I honored the setback but maintained some ground in the world of the upside down.
Conquest is exhilarating. But it doesn’t stand on it’s own. It requires that you reclaim it day after day after day. Claiming the same victory over and over. Harmonious union, with a posture or a life circumstance, establishes a foundation of creative growth and an expansion of possibilities. This is why inhabiting the simpler postures with awareness and love deepens our practices so much. We become one with the shapes that way. We internalize them and then that wisdom extends into every posture that we do.
There was a time I learned in life that showing up consistently would change everything. That became my effort. Just to show up even if I felt tremendous resistance or fear. Historically, when a relationship felt difficult, I would avoid and run away. Showing up did change things. But it was a fight inside to do that and that conflict continued to show up in the relationships I was trying to show up for. Something deeper than showing up was called for. Wholeheartedness was called for. I learned that I needed to resolve the part of me that wanted to run away to begin with. Personal resolution opened the door to experiences in relationship in which conflict transformed into love.
The question then became less about conquering my shortcomings and more about understanding and embracing life as it was. After all, why keep balancing against a closed door when an opened door offers so many un-imagined possibilities?