I want to unfold.
Let no place in me hold itself closed,
for where I am closed
I am false
-Rainer Maria Rilke
At times in yoga, locked in with heightened attention and awareness of emotion in motion, we catch glimpses of our story in every puraka and rechaka (breath in and breath out). Fully present and coming into perfect energetic alignment, the class seems easy.
Moments of ease during the stress of asana is yoga’s therapy, an integrative change agent built by years of practice, gallons of sweat, hours of driving time, bundles of cash, hours of study and stillness, and attention to the inner dialogue between mind/body/spirit, and the application of hatha (force).
Seldom does the 26+2 series of 90 minutes in 105 degrees and 45% humidity seem easy, but recently it was with @desertdragonyoga @thefoundry in Tempe. Desert Dragon Yogi (David’s) teaching and leading are systematic and artistic, a body/mind/spirit presentation that is incisive, insightful, and inspirational.
“Breath is your guru,” He said and he’s right. Thinking of this opens a fresh new way of viewing yoga, what I’ve called, a breathcentric practice.
Our breathcentric practice is animated by hatha, an applied force normally defined as the power of opposites. Hatha in yoga can never be an abusive force, but one tempered by balance and awareness. Hatha yoga is the application of stress and ease balanced and then applied in every posture; it’s discovered in contraction and expansion, ease and tension, puraka and rechaka, strength and flexibility, the hard and soft. Hatha moves at the cosmic level too: the sun and moon, fire and water, heat and cold, and the spiritual imprints behind the energy of Earth by night and day, tide-shift, sleep, and work.
I recently learned that 27 classmates from high school have passed away since those years. I’m certain if they could change places with me, they would. It’s why I’m dedicating one practice session to each one, and in their memory. I do yoga to honor the lives they lived. They can never again do yoga or anything else on Earth.
I am lucky, so far. I’ve never had a chronic health condition to limit me. I have the resources and the experience to know that when I embody a yoga hatha practice, I am benefitting my life and my physical/mental/spiritual health. I am also fortunate that I came from physically sturdy Midwestern souls and parents that provided a safe home. They were spiritually and morally solid, meaning they kept their word and didn’t rip off other people. They did not abuse my brothers or me, and they didn’t use drugs (except for occasional drinking alcohol), but rarely to excess. They kept us fed and sent us to school with clean clothes. This doesn’t mean they talked about their religion or beliefs – they didn’t – and they weren’t righteous about it but lived from a seedbed of goodness and a ‘do unto others’ authentic creed that grounded everything they did.
One of my mentor professors in graduate school once asked us to think about what was good enough in our lives; he said if we could name a few things, we were lucky. I thought my upbringing and parents were good enough, my high school was good enough, and my job was good enough. None of it was perfect, but most of it was good enough. It’s wise to recognize that and not ask for perfection from ourselves or anyone.
Because there were things in my youth that were good enough, I had a rooted center from which I took the courage to travel far, and the confidence to exert my will in the world to the degree in which I could.
The writing I do on yoga (something I didn’t start until my 50s) can be construed as my “yes” to life, and my recognition that yoga is an important ingredient to the story of my good enough existence. Oh, it’s not been easy – is it ever? But it’s always been a deep pool of the doable.
Doing good enough and dipping into the pool of the doable, I’ve weaved a home, a life, and a family into a fulfilling saga, the threads of which are recorded in portions written and unwritten.
Everything I write or do is not perfectly honest, it’s not without flaws, and far from perfect. Some things could be better, of course, but that is life. And some days, like today in yoga, it’s nearly perfect. I’ll take it.
Motorcycling is like that too; most of the time it’s good enough, and sometimes damn near perfect. I’ve been on long rides solo and in group rides. It’s an incredibly stimulating way to see the world, see others, and see ourselves. Part of the excitement in motorcycling is the thrill (and danger) of riding with others in close formation.
Ya better have your shit together – they say – which requires heightened vigilance and the ability to be at ease in stress – the same as yoga.
Bikers in a group adjust every moment to road hazards, pavement conditions, and changing speeds of other bikers, cars, and trucks that change lanes or make sudden moves.
And at the end of a long group ride, great relief, and thankfulness for another day without incident is front and center on my mind, and my electric body is fully alive with the currents of life. That’s why I’ll bump a fist and joyfully, triumphantly, thankfully exclaim fuck-yea! Great ride!
It was like that recently, at the end of yoga class, on an unremarkable Tuesday when my mantra took me to that same fuck yea place where the pulse of strong currents had me exclaiming in relief and thankfulness. You probably know what I said . . . to myself.
It’s my mantra to overcoming challenges – a celebration of navigating life’s turbulent waters – and a bold exclamation for facing the gravitas of serious business in this competitive world.
If you don’t know what it feels like to punch a biker’s fist in a fleeting moment of great relief or place your palms together at the center of the 4th chakra in a sacred hold of namaste, that’s okay.
But maybe you can empathize with my bawdy, bold, happy, and healthy chant to all that is good enough . . . and occasionally, damn near perfect. A hashtag comes to mind #fuckyeayoga.