“While performing asana, the student’s body assumes numerous forms of life found in creation, and he learns that in all of these breathes the same universal spirit, the spirit of God.” -B.K.S. Iyengar
While many of us equate yoga and asana (postures) as one and the same, asana is only a part of yoga. We often strive to perfect our poses by making them straighter, or twisting them to an extreme, or balancing a more complicated form for longer. (Perhaps we get to measure the duration of crow pose in seconds rather than milliseconds.) We believe that the more effort we put in, the closer to perfection we get. Ironically, according to Patanjali, “effortlessness is success.” Attaining “harmony” with our bodies, breath an awareness in that moment allows us to experience the wisdom that is written into our DNA. (Gates & Kenison) While minds must find stillness to be at peace, bodies can be at peace in either stillness or movement. My body typically chooses “the dance.”
One of my teachers often says, “Let it be easy,” in a calm, floaty voice. I have always taken this to mean to stop trying so hard and just let it happen. (Oh yeah, and relax your face.) But, after reading today’s entries in Meditations from the Mat (Gates & Kenison) I can understand that this cue is actually is much deeper. It is an invitation to experience “the wisdom of the dance,” a chance to absorb what my body has to say and the opportunity to be in a moment of harmony. (Enter: The Onion. Another layer is peeled away and I’m reminded that although I’m excited about today’s understanding, it’s not “the final answer.”)
I have a couple of yoga classes in a bit… As of now, I plan to choose a mantra like “Let it be easy,” or “I am Harmony,” or “Find wisdom in the dance.” But, I can’t decide now. I’ll do it in the moment…
The focus of the class was pratyahara, or disconnecting with everything except ourselves. The room was dark and soothing.
“I am still.”
The teacher offered these words as our mantra. Seriously? I wanted to dance. Still, I settled into the savasana that began our practice. My breath deepened until it became “the audible breath of the ocean” that I love. Intentional movement began as I breathed the words, “I am” on the inhale and “still” on the exhale. The thought floated through my mind, “I am not my body. I am still, but my body can dance.” As the flow built upon itself, I closed my eyes much of the time, to feel the dance, not watch the dance. There were moments when my eyes opened reflexively as my body struggled to find its harmonic balance without the aid of my vision. Also, I realized, if the muscles of the face began to clench, my eyes needed to flutter open until they could relax, if harmony I sought.
In the stillness was the wisdom of the dance. It was the heat of the heartbeat cooled by the rhythm of the breath. It was the opposition between micro adjustments to find balance. It was the graceful transition between stillness and movement on the winds of the breath.
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