There’s this place you get to in your yoga practice, or at least it’s a place I seem to have found and I’m looking for others’ accounts of it. You begin to be able to feel currents of energy moving through the body. Actually, the acupuncture visits have triggered this and I’m not even sure that I’m going there for my knee anymore. Having the sense of the body as a field of energy is a completely different way of moving through the world. It changes the way I think about things.
And the first order of the day is learning to ground. What does that even mean? For me it means getting connected to the earth and to my breath in those moments when my head is in outerspace somewhere and things are getting kinky and disconnected. No not that kinky. The twisty and discombobulated sort. So for me a lot of it is continually coming back to the breath. It’s not so esoteric- sometimes I’m doing dishes and my head is in a flurry as it runs through the impossible list of things I would like to and need to accomplish in any given day. I am a doer, an overachiever, and I drive myself and my family to the brink sometimes. Breathe. Breathe. Make a list and prioritize. Breathe some more.
There is this beautiful tree at the library where I work. It is a gorgeous old oak tree, probably a hundred years old. In the summer they hold children’s concerts out there. Trees, they say, are very grounding, and I believe that. It suddenly hit me that this tree has been there all along even when I’m not aware of it, grounding and supporting me. So another grounding strategy is to find a tree.
Mysore class was friday. My new class, my new teacher. I was completely distracted to be practicing next to someone working on second series. But then I got back to work. Working on the meditative qualities of the practice. Yes, yes, that’s all very nice but honestly on friday I was pretty focused on the binds. But also noticing that the knee is showing improvement. What is really coming up is R tapped on my shoulder, my right shoulder, with the blade of his hand. I always tell my students to bring their shoulders down, shoulders moving toward the belt line, shoulders relaxing etc… But my right shoulder curls up and forward when I’m not thinking about it. The entire brachial plexus tightens quite unconsciously. This affects forward folds as well as backward bending. For years I have felt the shoulder tighten as if there was a screw that turned and turned but I could not figure out how to unturn it. My hands don’t come anywhere near the floor in Prasarita Padottanasana D and it has been a bit puzzling. Suddenly it hit me that the shoulder is curling forward to protect the wounded heart. It’s all a defense mechanism, a pattern of holding that no longer serves me. So suddenly I’m breathing into that space between my right breast and the top of the shoulder, letting it fill, standing taller.
For some reason it all comes back to plugging up the energy leaks in my life. A lot of the work is off the mat lately. Doing laundry, putting away toys. Washing dishes, making lists. When these things get done I can think more clearly and there is more space for everything else. What suffers, at the moment, is the artistic practice. Especially in these last weeks of December as the holiday swirl blows in. Breathe.