Tuesday, April 04, 2006
Balance and harmony
So thinking about the "Turtle Pose" (in conjunction with computers) led OmegaMom to thinking about proper posture, exercise, and yoga. The "Turtle Pose" I speak of looks similar to this picture, but envision it a bit more hunched over and the head squinched back even further:
This is not to be confused with the real Turtle Pose, from yoga:
In yoga, the emphasis is on (of course) stretching, flexibility, and balance--physical (as in the Tree Pose) and spiritual--and in balancing each movement with another movement. Hence, you have Downward Facing Dog followed by, say, The Cobra.
Another kind of balance is between action and inaction, or tension versus relaxation. Thus, you have tadasana, the Mountain Pose, paired with its opposite, savasana, the Corpse (or relaxation) Pose. In tadasana, you are focused, strong, centered. You plant your feet solidly down to the earth, and stretch your spine strongly upward, one long, strong line sweeping from your feet through your spine and up out of the center of your head. You are centering your body so that you are prepared to move into any other standing pose--Warrior Pose, the upward stretch, the downward bend--and balanced so that you can move into any of the balance poses. In savasana, you are relaxed, loose, centered mentally. Ideally, you are supposed to empty your mind of all thoughts, and just be. Be your breath, moving in and out. Be a body, soaking into the ground. At its best, savasana has me feeling like I am melting into the earth, the layer of molecules on the surface of my body meshing with the layer of molecules on my blanket. You float, you exist, in a timeless moment of perfect relaxation. Ahhh. Now, truth be told, I can't reach that state of mindless being, but I have developed three differing strategies to get very close. The first is related to a story written by Dianna Wynne Jones, Fire and Hemlock, a retelling of TamLin. (Great book, by the way, and great writer. If you ever get the chance to read Dark Lord of Derkholm, and you are a fantasy lover, the book will have you howling with laughter.) In Fire and Hemlock, there is an image of two puzzle urns, with letters written on them; if you spin the urns, the letters combine in a variety of manners. "Now here", "Nowhere", "New hero", "Here now". I use the phrases "Now here" and "Nowhere" as a mantra, thinking one as I breathe in, the other as I breathe out. Unfortunately, this is often interrupted with snippets and scenes from the book. Oops. A Yogi I am not. Then there's the "golden lifeforce" visualization, which is very new-agey and woo-woo. In this one, I envision the life around me emanating streams of golden energy; as I breathe in, I suck in the golden streams and they coalesce into a fiery golden ball below my navel. As I breathe out, I envision the golden energy pulsing outward from that center through each of my limbs and head, emerging like sunbeams from my toes, my fingertips, and the crown of my head. The third visualization I use is floating through an idealized vision of Monument Valley, and is rather hard to describe. It's very relaxing and peaceful, though. The key thing to savasana, though, is to let go. Let go of the picayune details of the day. Let go of the tension in all the muscles of the body. Let go of the world, and just be. The end result: OmegaMom emerges from a yoga session to share in the shanti blessing feeling totally limp, noodly, and one with the world. Shanti. Shanti. Shanti. Peace. Peace be with you. Peace to your family, your friends, your loved ones. Peace to all people walking on this earth. Peace to all living creatures. Shanti. Shanti. Shanti. The feeling of Oneness With the Kozmik All continues as I walk out the door and get into my car. The feeling of meshing molecules continues as I sink luxuriously into the car seat, every muscle in my back conforming easily to the contours of the seat. But, alas, the peace slowly seeps away as I smell the aroma of old cheese that is somewhere in the car which we can't seem to locate (I blame OmegaDotter!). And dealing with the pure physical necessity of driving home and coping with Other Drivers makes the peaceful "be-ing" hard to keep in the moment. But...ah. Savasana. While you're in that moment, it is a blissful place to be.