Every time I speak the word ‘yoga,’ I can’t help but have it follow with words like tranquility, harmony and happiness. And yet, at the beginning of this year, it was a lot more challenging to even catch a whiff of the positivity I had previously been so familiar with.
If I was to assign a yoga pose to represent each year of my life, 2015 would definitely be represented by Simhassana- the Lion. Anger, hatred, and anxiety are horrid things to be dealing with. But on the brighter end, I think prickling confusion is always followed by sharpened consciousness.
The only way to deal with a salad bowl of questions is to keep your eyes open all the time, hoping the universe will in some way communicate the answers you are madly in search of. I like to think that a couple of yoga poses, once looked at through the lens of 2015, delivered some answers to me at least.
To put it another way, here are the answers I read in the symbolism in yoga when I was in pursuit of clarity:
1. From Cobra to Downward Dog
Cobra has you bend your spine and roll your shoulders back. It speaks the language of confrontation–of planting your palms on the floor and looking the world in the face. With Down Dog, on the other hand, you work your way into an inverted triangle and turn your back to the world. Facing the ground, you can shut the world out and be in the presence of yourself, your breath and your recovery.
The particular alteration between these poses, when done over and over again, begins to tell a story. To be honest, I couldn’t ever pick a side. Confronting is challenging and retiring into oneself seems impractical. It is the alteration between the two poses that has you swinging between the world and your interior being. Over and over again.
I have come to know that confrontation requires inner work and that the inner work you do is put best to practice when you are made to confront. It’s like a prep-and-test merry go round you just can’t get off. And therein lies the secret to resilience.
2. Extended Cat Pose
There is a mesmerising elegance in Cat Pose. Naturally, when my yoga instructor had me do the this pose at first, I was only a little better than a wacky cat on a slippery floor. It took me a while before the balance travelled to me and it was only then that I could appreciate the meaning behind the extended cat.
Being on all fours is easy, a lot like life in your comfort zone. But things don’t remain simple. Over the years the future you dream of, the things you lean on, and the people you count on begin to let you down one after the other. I don’t know yet if you can restore any of that, but I do know that living without those crutches contributes phenomenally to your growth game.
You have that arm and you have that leg but you’re going to go ahead and lift it off the ground and stretch it, because it’s liberating to know how little you really need to balance. It is a test, but it’s immensely freeing once you understand that practice and focus keeps you from falling even when nearly all else is failing you.
3. Seated Twist
At first the Seated Twist appears more like a criss-cross of confusion. It is a very uncomfortable posture for me at least. But delve deeper, and it means something entirely different. While your body faces forward, you have your head turned back and look over your shoulder.
Every time I practice this pose, turning the head away is symbolic of detachment to me. There are often situations we can’t control and people we don’t want to face all over again which locks us up in an uncomfortably complex swirl of emotions. Turning away and looking the other way becomes part of the misery as much as it is part of the posture.
And yet, practiced throughly turning away becomes that which helps us sit through those criss-cross moments we can’t physically escape anyway. Turning away completes both the posture and the pursuit of peace of mind in life itself. It is the much needed reminder that even though the situation you are in may be overwhelming, being effected by it or not is your choice alone.
From what little I know of circumstances, I know that after a point, detachment does not remain an option. It becomes an obligation to get through–an epiphany that takes too much work for a worrying Virgo like myself.
A lot of yoga is astounding in its metaphorical layering if you care to look. Solutions to problems are elusive, but if you seek your problem survival guide, yoga always comes in handy. Perhaps life really is a seesaw of surprises. The one thing that matters is that now is that I know how to balance my thoughts.