My favorite way to do it is in a pool of sunlight, because that is when I feel closest to God.
Some people don’t like it like that, they say that the sun is too bright or they get too hot. They want to pull the curtain across the window to soften the rays, but not me.
When I do it in the sun I imagine the particles of light sparkling around me, enveloping my skin.
I do it with my eyes closed and my body tenses and release in easy flow, held by the sun’s warmth.
I inhale in through my nose and I imagine breathing in divine love and allow it to fill me completely. I exhale deeply freeing everything that doesn’t belong, everything that is blocking me from experiencing this moment fully. It is then that I feel the joy of the sun and of my spirit joining with the divine that dances through the sun beam. I experience the joy of the strength of my body and the suppleness of relief. I experience the stillness of my mind which has let go of everyday concerns to become one in this moment and my heart opens to love.
That is my favorite way to practice yoga; I love to do it in the sun.
Sometimes I can’t get the spot near the window, or sometimes it just isn’t a sunny day and the room is dim of natural light. In those times, I imagine the sun and it makes those spaces of my practice that I dread become moments of opportunity to reach out to God. It wasn’t always that way though.
In the first months of my practice when I heard my instructor say, “Go straight back into Utkatasana, Chair Pose.”
I would grumble to myself and suffer through the pose. My legs would shake and my shoulders would feel stiff and fatigued. My breath would become fast and shallow and my brow would knit. After moments, I would release forward out of the pose, frustrated from the fight, and the feeling that the pose had won.
That was until the day I looked across at a women in my class. There she was in chair pose. She wasn’t struggling or fighting. She didn’t even look like she was trying. She was radiant.
She was with God.
In her radiance, not only did I witness her commune and revere with God, but I too was filled simply by the recognition of it.
In the next class when my instructor said those words that I once dreaded, I turned my face up to meet the imaginary sun in the dim of the yoga studio and I felt the asana open. I pulled my chest back, raised my face to the sun, and gave myself to it fully. I gave myself to it as one would when reaching out to meet the divine.
In that asana, there was no struggle or pain. There was only joy and extension. There was only reaching out to the divine in praise and being held in the pose. When my instructor’s voice led us into the next posture, I held on a moment longer not wanting that connection to end. Then I realized that the next asana and the next and the next offered it’s own divine connection.
I realized that each asana is a prayer, both separate from and woven with the one before and after, like one flowing, sun-lit conversation with God.
That is the practice of yoga.
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Ed: Kate Bartolotta