Now, step your right foot forward between your hands.
The yoga instructor cued us to transition from downward-facing dog into a lunge. The mountain valley was glowing luminescent green behind us as the mid-morning sun climbed higher in the sky.
Rather than coming up into a crescent lunge, though, she invited us to hover our upper bodies over our bent knee and lift our arms up and out to our sides like wings.
Already dealing with low energy that morning, I was eager for the (at least marginal) rest of arriving fully into a familiar pose, but this time the pose was stopping halfway and holding.
I found myself struggling to hold the position. It was taking an enormous amount of effort from my legs and core to maintain the shape. My breathing was labored, and my heart was beating harder.
Just when I felt myself beginning to falter, we released, stepping into forward fold.
Now let’s test our balance.
The instructor said to keep holding the left toe, but to bring the right hand to the hip. She then guided us to bend into both knees and come up to standing, bringing the left foot with us, then extending it out in front of us, all while never letting go of the left toe.
I centered, gathering myself up into the midline of my body, bent my knees, focused, and pushed. Part of the way up, I found the wobble, the weak spot where I might have fallen out, but I strengthened my resolve and met that challenge by pushing even harder. And then I was standing—balanced, focused, and relaxed, still holding my left toe, with my left leg extended straight out in front of me.
Then, I laughed out loud.
I had been struggling through the morning in a fog. I had woken up feeling low energy because I had awakened to fear. My fear was being generated by my overall feeling of being restricted, isolated, and running up against an immovable wall in the things most important in life: love, money, connection, value, self-worth, success, being of service, being capable, and feeling safe.
I understood that the fear was a reaction to external circumstances. I understood that the situation had engaged my inner critic and triggered this whole pattern.
I even understood that all of this was happening in complete alignment with current astrological energies that involved Venus, goddess of love and money and self-value, opposing Saturn, which when in challenging aspects causes feelings of fear, depression, restriction, limitation, and isolation. But understanding wasn’t necessarily helping. I was in it.
So, I had gathered myself up and pushed myself out the door for morning yoga. I was in such a fog that I arrived at the outdoor venue without my mat, so I was practicing on the grass with a beach towel I found in my car.
Now I stood there balanced on one leg, after pushing myself—literally willing myself—to stand, using only that leg. Somehow, I had pushed through it. Somehow, I had found the strength within me and figured out how to organize my body around the action to see it through.
Somehow, I had kept it together even through the shaky parts, even when I lost my balance.
I realized that the low energy I was feeling was a habitual response I have to fear. The low energy was me collapsing—it was me losing my hope and faith in myself and the universe.
It was me not being able to see a way forward. It was me losing my determination and perseverance. It was me falling into that deep, dark, black hole again. And it was an illusion—it was not real.
It could not be real, because I had just summoned exceptional strength and coherence to bring myself to standing on one leg, using only one leg.
Coherence is a key concept here.
Yoga means “to yoke” or “to unite.” It means union. I practice yoga to gain a sense of coherence. When I practice regularly, it is literally a practice of “pulling myself together.”
I need this practice, because I tend to scatter and dissociate—to leave my body. This is what happens when I feel fear and then begin to collapse. I need to practice coherence.
I need to practice embodiment.
I need to practice willing myself to stand again and again—pushing through the wobble— because this is a practice for finding my inner strength and resiliency day after day, time after time.
In astrological terms, we might say that I have some issues with Saturn. Saturn sits in my first house, hovering just above Venus. This means not only does it influence my identity and the way I see the world and the world sees me, but it also has, at least up until this point in my life, been experienced as a restriction to expressing my Venus—love, money, and most importantly, self-esteem.
While Saturn above Venus in my first house has come through in positive ways in my life (for a long time, I was dedicated to a two-hour daily dance practice), it has also shown up as abusive and controlling relationships that have led to trauma, depression, and PTSD.
The thing is, we all in some way, at some point, have to deal with Saturn. We have to deal with those energies in our lives that it represents. (Globally, we are all getting a big dose of Saturn right now.)
We have to learn boundaries and discipline.
We have to take responsibility for ourselves and our lives. We have to become our own authorities. We have to face the hard parts and the challenges, and find the inner strength to push through and rise above.
The good news is there is always room for growth and transformation.
The blueprint of our souls at birth is what it is—but we are all born with the creative power to transform our relationship with these energetic dynamics, and turn our challenges and limitations into gifts.
As I deepen my yoga practice, I realize that yoga is an amazing tool for working with Saturn in our lives. Saturn is about showing up in a meaningful way. It’s about karma and consequences. Saturn also rules bones, skin, and teeth (again, structure and boundaries).
When we practice yoga, we practice showing up, we practice self-awareness, we practice discipline. When we practice yoga, we practice being with what is, and finding space where it feels like there is none.
When we practice yoga, we practice finding a balance between strength and flexibility. When we practice yoga, we practice alignment—within ourselves structurally, and with what is outside of us.
When we practice yoga, we practice the art of coherence and pulling ourselves together—we practice the union and yoking of all the fragmented pieces of ourselves.
When we practice these things, we practice honing a fierce inner strength that breeds a resiliency within us that is absolutely unshakable. When we practice these things, we are practicing the magic that is becoming a force of nature, so that we may withstand whatever nature may throw at us. When we practice these things, we practice reconnecting with our inner sovereignty.
Practicing these things is practicing the art of consciously creating ourselves and our relationship to the world—it is practicing the art of consciously creating life.