Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Early Friday yoga blogging: finding sukha

I had my weekly yoga class tonight, and I had some thoughts I wanted to get down anyway, so Friday blogging comes on Tuesday night this week. What was really cool was that some of the ideas I had about blogging came out in class today. So here goes.

After a hard workout, it feels good to rest, cool down, and get calm. And, for a long time, I viewed yoga as a hard workout, and in savasana (relaxation pose), I could "get calm," or find sukha (literally, bliss or happiness). Lately, however, I've been looking for this in every pose, including the ones you'd think would be the most difficult.

Take utkatasana (aka "chair pose" or "powerful pose") for instance. In this pose, you sit in a pretend chair, with your upper body at an angle and your arms stretched out high above you. You also keep your legs in parallel planes, so that they do not collapse inward or outward. It helps to scoop your tail bone downward toward your heels. Now, a couple of years ago, I just tried to maintain this pose, working like a dog. These days, I try to expand up through my arms on an inhale, and settle back on an exhale. At the bottom of the exhale, I try to find sukha, even though my legs are working hard. In fact, utkatasana seems to be one of the first poses that yogis use to find sukha during fiery poses.

Today in class, we looked at another aspect of finding ease. In the philosophy of my teachers (Anusara yoga), the front body is our expression of ourselves, our individuality. Our back sides are our support, our source. By paying attention to our back sides, and by making sure it's aligned properly, we can "fall back" onto the divine for support, so we can find ease in our poses.

Of course, this is all fine and dandy on the yoga mat, but the principle applies more generally. There's a reason we tend to think about our back sides being covered in a threatening situation. When we can't do it alone, when we can't find sukha through solely our own efforts, we must be willing to fall back on our source.