March 12, 2013

The Yolk of Yoga.

Photo: Tim Cigelske

Yoga: the relationship between the form and the formless.

The four corners of my mat become a portal—an incredible threshold for possibility. I step onto it, reach high and listen as my core starts humming. I suddenly realize the beautiful connection of my energy to the energy of my fellow yogis, my leader, the music in the room, the vibrations from the walls, the street outside—all the way to the sun and beyond—as if I am rooted and flying at the same time, and I begin to realize how beautifully connected we all are.

I flow through my first set of sun salutations and I live inside my body—my very own form, my one and only—and it becomes clear that this is the physical form that my formless cosmic energy has chosen to navigate through in this life. I pull my yoga into the base of my pelvis, let it stir and resonate until it spirals and shoots out of the crown of my head, and I come into knowing: this is what it’s been about the whole time.

This is the yolk that is yoga.

As both a student and a teacher of yoga, I am fully grounded in the ego frustrations that sometimes happen on the center of the mat. There are certain poses that my energy is just not fully aligned with (half pigeon, anyone?) and I am no stranger to the thought of: “Hey, why isn’t this working?”

Forearms pressing into the earth, pressing evenly with the wrists through the elbows, little weight in the head, shoulders pressing together and down the back body, low ribs pulled in, tight core, hips stacked over shoulders, and still—why isn’t headstand coming? It’s easy to let the frustration in the moment take over, until I bow out into child’s pose and resign into brooding.

It’s time to try again. This time, no want; this time, no looking around the room to see what sort of inverted magic other people got going on; this time, no force; this time: breathe.

This time, and in all the times to follow, just understand that my only obligation in any given moment—ever—is just to breathe.

And then—suddenly—I’m up. I’m floating. An upside down angelic tower. And I begin to realize that this has never been an accumulation of correctly embodied verbal cues. This has never been a checklist or a Twister game of right foot here, left hand here.

This has never been a call and response between Mind and Body—Mind calls out from the command center, and Body falls into formation.

This has been Body the whole time.

This has been my very own body, my very own form, my one and only, exploring its successes and limitations, learning how to be the best vehicle for that formless bright ball of humming energy that has chosen to reside here. Mind has been under the illusion that it has something to do with it. Mind has had a checklist, a set of expectations and a fake, plastic twenty-five-cent-machine controller that it foolishly uses to try and make Body do things.

Before the final surrender, the time for Body to restore, rejuvenate and repossess all of her beautiful power, I pull into a final tiny ball on the mat. Knees into chest, forehead scrunching in, I take my final inhalation of practice. I hold at the very top for as long as I can, and I begin to feel the pulsation of the formless inside me, coursing through me at lightning speed, becoming form as it reaches the extremities and rushes back to the center.

That pulsation is a unique expression; it has never existed before and will never exist again; it is vibrant and the world needs it.

As the final release comes, an invitation starts writing itself in my brain. I begin to watch words form and listen to the gratitude I didn’t know I had inside me all of this time. A hollow voice inside begins to chant.

Dear inner life:

Thank you for always bubbling over with the richness and subtlety of warm honey. Thank you for never getting frustrated with me, no matter how many times I ignore you, betray you, belittle you or get frustrated by you. Thank you for being my perfect critic—cheerful, honest, matronly and kind.

Thank you for being a balloon filled to capacity with joy. Thank you for the deep rumble in my pit, bursting all the way up and finding escape in huge bursts of laughter. Thank you for never telling me, “No!” Thank you for showing me colors imperceptible to my senses. Thank you for being infinitely large and infinitely small. Thank you for being my teacher.

On that note, thank you, great teacher, for teaching me to trust, so that I may trust you, and finally—without external permission, titillation or pressure—learn to love.

But most of all, thank you for being me, the glorious me, who I am fascinated by, inspired by, humbled by, and who I want to be more and more each passing day.

You have fashioned me wings made of moon-shine.

Infinite, transcending, glorious love, love, love always,



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Ed: Jayleigh Lewis & Brianna Bemel

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