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Selection 10 of

Yoga

by Mary Lambert
Guided by a hand placed
firmly at the back of my neck, I begin.
Thumb and index finger touch, resting
on each knee and attention is turned
inward. I am still working on a Full Lotus
pose which seems so easy to the heart but
is so difficult for the body.

My hips ache and I swear my thighs
haven't come any closer to the floor
in six months of work.

I must find my edge in the oppositional placement
of the pose; I must learn to hear the body's
awareness of its own being.

No matter.

I have come to know this inevitable,
unrelenting pull. Like a flag undulating,
with wind, showing its colors and working
its meaning through fine and fowl weather.
Sometimes it flows and glows--other times
it is bedraggled and spotted with the strain.

My back muscles begin to protest this unnatural
obeisance to the straight spine. I work at finding
my edge, shaping bone and sinew into rebirth and
redemption.

Who built the road? Who provided such
mystery in dark corners and left turns?
Why do its rough warp and twisted turns
embrace me, excite me and fill me with
devotion?

I do not know.

I do know the struggle, the fight, the bloody burrs
and painful losses incurred in its embrace. I also
know that these very struggles cause openings to
a green place with fresh water that tastes of violets.


But never mind the fancy words--this experience
is tricky and slick. Like Mercury. Mercury beckons
wickedly with such agility. His dance is
effortless and every turned finger delights.
Thus it is easy to be fooled, miss a step and fall.

And then there is humiliation. A Westerner's
sensitivity to failure. This is followed by denial
which in turn blocks truth. Finally, I am so full
of flotsam and jetsam that I cannot stand it any
longer. I bull my way out, head down, uncaring
of the pain--I just want clarity again.

Immediately there is a cool hand at my
neck and a focused calmness.
My koan maps a cave that must be found
and its gate sprung so its sacred sound wends canyons
and mountains for all to hear and be enlivened.

I continue on, no longer doubting.
When the latch is lifted and the cave's
perfumed song trails the land, I too will
dance and float amongst its sacred
chords.

I feel my spine's awareness of the process.
Each reluctant vertebra clicks into the necessary posture.
It is poorly done and once again, I struggle to hold it.
The heart aches anew--it so wants the feel
of such a regal position and the clarity of
insight that accompanies such a stance.

I am told by my teacher that resistance is good--
without it, the positions look awesome and graceful
but do not travel well. They defy sculpting and
sculpting comes only with resistance and effort
and must be won.

Why?

She says sculpting sets the spirit free so it can fly.
She says when there is no resistance, the pose comes easily
and is not anchored. Thus, it is beautiful on the
surface, but the vessel that shapes it hasn't the
perspective to navigate and know the mountain top.

Indeed, this seemingly adept yogi
may reach the mountain top quickly,
but will not recognize its true nature.

I do not know. Except that I believe that every
canyon and mountain has done its own sculpting over
long eons, finally to dance enrapt with clouds and sun.

And so I sit. I also do other poses and do better
or worse from time to time with all of them.
Every so often, I am aware of an inner awakening
in small places--a shoulder joint, my core muscles
or even my feet. I swear I felt my big toe become
aware with a pop! I'm not joking...

Currently, I'm working on balance. Inner balance
which determines the longevity of the outer stance.
I find that this one does get better and that I must
do it each and every day. The Tree pose is my
mainstay at this time. At my last practice I did
my best work ever.

Now, if I could only do a full lotus with some
slight resemblance to the picture on the cover
of my Yoga manual...   ...     !

Selection 10 of

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Copyright © 2004 by Mary Lambert. All rights reserved.