I am practicing asana but at a level where the quality is meditative. The totality of being, from the core to the skin, is experienced. Mind is unruffled, intelligence is awake in the heart rather than in the head, self is quiescent, and conscious life is in every cell of the body. That is what I mean when I say asana opens the whole spectrum of yoga’s possibilities.
– B.K.S. Iyengar
Fuse the powers of the sacred heart with the energies of the body and you transform everything.
– Pierre Teilhard De Chardin.
Here we are at the end of the week of Passover and the eve of Easter. In the Northwest the sun is finally shining, and everywhere flowers are bursting forth. It is no wonder that there are major religious holidays at this time. Clearly this is a time to celebrate. We have hopefully seen the last of the dark cold days of winter, and can now begin our planting and playing in the sun.
From the Jewish perspective, we have spent this past week reliving our journey from enslavement to freedom. A metaphysical journey from dark to light. I know that there are many ways in which we are all still enslaved, so as i crunch on my matzah, i am reminded to continue to keep my heart open, and to seek ways to help others escape slavery – both physical and mental
Yes slavery is still alive and kicking the world, think child labor and sex trade, coal mining and diamond mining.
And while I am not a member of the Christian community, I know many who have spent the last 39 days trying to give up something for Lent. Chocolate, coffee, sugar, anything that they really liked, so that they can in some small way, experience the suffering that Jesus experienced. Sunday, they will be released from their vows of abstinence and will be free to celebrate and consume as they wish.
But for more than a month, every time they almost ate/drank their favorite substance, they were reminded of others who have suffered or who are still suffering. They brought the darkness of limitations to the forefront of their consciousness through a personal act of abstinence.
And now here we are, about to be set free from the restrictions we have set upon ourselves. We are about to be free from the physical reminders of the suffering of others. We are about to enter into the light and fullness of spring and summer. I think perhaps our spiritual forefathers had something here. They knew that there needed to be a “right of passage” a “moment of awakening” “a space of rememberance” at this moment of transition as we move from the cold days of winter into the warmth of summer. We need to stop and pause and celebrate the cycle of birth, death and rebirth. We need to remember that even in the best of times there is suffering, and, even in the darkest moments of suffering, there is room for birth and growth.
Okay, so what does this have to do with yoga? Everything. As yogis we come from many traditions. Being a yogi does not mean you are no longer a Jew, Buddhist, Muslim, or Christian. You are all that and more. Let your yoga practice be a celebration of your spiritual practice. Allow your breath to flow from the deepest recesses of your being. Step into your asana practice with deliberation, awareness, and rememberance. Your body is more than just a physical entity, allow it to be a vehicle for helping you to connect with the divine, and to live in greater connection with all beings. Allow your meditations to be full of connection and wonder.
Shalom & Namaste,