MUSIC from an Internet radio station plays in the background. Tablas and harmonium weave a soft melody. Sometimes a flute or sitar joins the song, and it pours over me like waves from the Pacific. It’s compelling to my ear. I try to concentrate on my pose, but sometimes I wander and follow the music.
I follow the sound, slow my heartbeat and ground my awareness. I’m still in class, but I imagine diving below and swimming deep. I listen closely and believe I hear the octopus changing colors. I open my eyes and breathe sound of the room.
In the tapas of my practice and its link to my muscle and sinew, a moment turns into a hour and my tribute to those who have gone before. An epic prayer from ancestors is on my lips.
Music stills me and I stay in the room until I hear my teacher give her blessing.. Her soft voice heaps a lavish blessing upon the gathered yogis which we accept and hold, “May your practice bring strength to your bodies, clarity to your minds, kindness and compassion to your hearts.”
I take this and know that I have been brought around and past my edges. I will go into the world with slightly less border and boundary, inhabiting a conscience of wider circles and deeper draws of inclusion
I realize this reshaping is the nexus of my identity, the ring of fire connecting my courage and passion. I have been showered in wholeness and connected by the strength, clarity, kindness, and compassion of the words that take me to the heart center. I take this and realize I have found my mission statement for the rest of my days.
I let it hold me as breath holds my life underwater. And I walk away in hopes of embodying my new mission. But every now and then, I doubt; and I’m reminded to not dig up in doubt what I’ve planted in faith. The crucible I’ve voluntarily entered is too precious – and its bearing too holy – to let it fall in rust and ignorance or to handle with doubt and irreverence.
My crucible – mission – is to fill up the periphery which has become center. It’s a maddening and illogical movement which confounds the logical. It’s the Buddhist pepper of the east to the Aristotelean salt of the west, and its integrated mix has become my blessing and my center.
The movement to periphery in every bend and reach has become the starch of my backbone, and it holds me fast when I fall to the seduction of mythologies that surround me. I’m surprised when I realize that I’m exhausted and happy, truly happy, in the midst of my practice.
I see truth behind marketed public veneers, so I turn away and work to hone my mission. While the rounded twisting on my mat pulls my breath and pushes it out , this rising and falling moves me by degree to completeness and shows me that my place, my contentment, is with the link that is welded into and onto me through yoga.
My new vocation is a stunning anecdote for worry. It has become my spiritual DNA. It has wound its link around my spine, and lodged in my soul. I fasten to this deep core with breath and meditations pioneered by music. I embody asana and rejoice in a glimpse of a periphery turned central, an inhabited identity formed of particularity and universality. Moment by single moment, I think our union is the beautiful crush of salt and pepper.
I do asana to claim ancestry, music, diving and rising. Yoga stretches me and I am in union (yuj) with the line of my people back to the beginning. I marvel at all the gurus and yogis appearing before me.
I continue working my flawed yet beautiful human project, relieved to discover this connective link, this balm of body and mind that I’ve caught in the present from messengers of the past.
This yoga takes me back to a delight song in my bones, a song I once knew, and a place I once knew. I see a forest turned into a container of heat and transformation; a liminal space where gravity is my honest teacher and companion.
Gravity . . . its my center and periphery, my salt and pepper. A guru points to the way and slowly my weakness is given to the fire . . . melting to ash.
I’ve been seasoned by divine moments that have bent me, and I open to this shaping no matter how I fail even when I insert my ego into the music, and rough-hew gravity’s curriculum; when my best work only dimly reflects the shining divinity that brands us, and when I object to the latest scene in the play and its failure to catch the conscience of the king, then I rise.
Yoga class ends . . . and the gravity of OM adds its penultimate closing.
I’m on my knees linked to a great beyond. In that linking, my asana is your asana, your stardust is my stardust, and my conscience is your conscience.