August 10, 2014

Open the Heart by Holding a Pose.

yoga balancing pose beach

“By staying engaged with what is really happening, there is an opportunity to ask questions and the undercurrents can clear. The truth in the moment can be recognized.”

~ Swami Radhananda

My own home practice.

No slow breaths lagging me behind a room full of ashtangis. No flowing sequences under the sunshine of free classes in the park.

My own luxurious, sometimes abbreviated, sometimes neglected, home practice.

I forget these truths of my mind and body. That I need my own pace and my own flow. That I need more time for a pose.

Today my gaze lifted past my fingertips, rising up high in triangle. “Hold it for another round of mantra,” my body said, speaking on behalf of my heart. “Hold it strong and feel the foundation of both feet.”

My mind objected. “C’mon now, we’ve been in this one long enough.” But it was no match for the waves of vibration emanating out of me in that moment—the crests and troughs of my heart and body syncing up and becoming exponentially stronger.

Oh yeah, I need time to hold a pose.

Oh, sometimes I need to flow and breathe and maybe even to dance or shift into half moon as I’m waiting for the bus and be careful not to swipe the sign behind me and lose my balance as I sway. Sometimes I need to move.
And sometimes I need to hold the pose.

“The pose starts when you stay with it. As you learn to hold a pose, there is a knowing you can draw on.”

~ Swami Radhananda

So today I stayed and then I lay and my heart felt this thing that sometimes isn’t a good thing but today would not be placed as either good or bad. This buzzing or this breaking through. “And no,” I thought, because I hadn’t had enough consecutive days without tears to go back into that place again, that place where I thought it was inviting me to go.

But suddenly I stopped. Because I realized it wasn’t inviting me to go there at all, I was just being invited up now, into shoulderstand, where I would point my toes into each of their directions as they fanned out and up toward the sky. And then my gaze would rest in my heart.

Just look at it.

No need to talk about its buzzing in my mind because my mind could just listen to the woosh woosh of the breath sailing past. And I wouldn’t need to untie the threads of feeling this feeling before, at some random moment in the past in some random place.

Just be.

And then in a few milliseconds I am somewhere else in a different time and the acupuncturist is coming back in and I’m thinking it can’t be done already but then she says, “I had an intuition. I’m going to put one more in.” And then there is a swab and a prick in the middle of each of my hands and suddenly I’m gone and I’m the whole entire room.

I guess she must have left but even if she hadn’t she’s in the room anyway and so I’m her and then I stay for a while like that, in the room, though I’m not in the room because I am the room.

“What was that?” She was back. I was back. Back into myself and now in the room instead of being the room and she’s back in there, too, separate.

“It was the pericardium point…kind of like the box around the heart.

Will one small needle open that for me? Will it last and last?


Months later, years later, I’ll be in shoulderstand this morning and think about it and wonder why I’m holding on so tightly to this box and wonder at how it shakes and moans.

I’ll hold longer, still, and feel my spine open and expand, lift up and up as if I am my child self that asked my brothers to “pull up my feet” while I’d move into this stretch I seemed to know.

Rest now.

Yet as my legs reach ground my heart pulls up and with the grounding of my hands beneath my hips I’m already rising. Rising full and strong and keeping my eyes open because fish don’t have eyelids so they never blink.

They have other senses, too, and I wonder at this constant whirring in my heart that can teach me things, and all the times I would hesitate right before that lift. The years of pain and forcing-myself-to-want touch that would make it easier to lie on my back and cry than lift up into fish.

Movement happens freely now. Movement that is slow and held and gentle. Because really I have only learned it with the steady patience taught by holding in a pose.

“Yoga becomes a dance, a fluid movement through the ups and down of our life, a way to approach our life with creativity, a way of healing and health and a way to make space and nourish the Light within.”

~Swami Radhananda



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Editor: Emily Bartran

Photo: Flickr / Kymberly Janisch

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