"I am standing on my own altar; the poses are my prayers" BKS Iyengar
In the last few years of my journey I have come to know myself pretty well through a lot of self reflection and hard work. I have learned that my go-to coping mechanism is to busy myself to the point of no rest. If I'm moving, so are my thoughts, so it blocks me from sitting with myself. Because sitting with myself and processing what is actually going on inside this head and heart can be a scary place for me.
The activities and involvements become my guard, my wall, and my safety net. Starting to feel something, oh I'll just go do A, B and C and then rush home to let the dog out, make dinner, run my 6 mile training route, and maybe get some shut eye. But every once in awhile, this backwards coping mechanism fails me and I am left with my thoughts and overwhelming emotion.
My thoughts spin and spin and pile up taller and taller until I loose the ability to express these emotions with words. I have learned when this happens, when I have no words and nothing left to give myself, I move on my mat. I move with all the emotion I have left and the poses become my prayers.
How beautiful sounding right? It's true. Thanks Iyengar :)
Think of a beginning of a yoga practice. Many times we start in Child's Pose. If you are looking at a person's body in this pose, their feet and legs are underneath them and their hands are outstretched on the mat before them and their head is bowed to the ground. It's a physical surrender. Surrender to the mat, to the higher power of your understanding...a signal that I can't, but you can...show me.
Taking Child's Pose was actually suggested to me from a Yogi Mentor of mine through my teacher training. I was expressing my discomfort with hitting my knees to pray and she said, "Kate, take Child's Pose" your prayers don't have to look like everyone's else's, nor does what you do with your body when you do pray. I will NEVER forget how I felt when she made this suggestion. Like a weight was lifted and life became easier and softer. How wise she is...
Warrior poses are very common in yoga practices and can hold so much power and significance. How do you feel when you are standing in Warrior I or Warrior II? Personally I feel strong, resilient, grounded and courageous. Warrior poses I have come to learn are actually all derived from an ancient tale of a Warrior names Virabhadra, an incredibly powerful warrior who used righteous anger to defeat enemies. The poses are built to signify the overcoming of ego and ignorance. Food for thought...
Last one that holds deep meaning for me is Tree Pose. Dang that Tree! I struggle with balance on and off my mat in everyday life. I have very little patience and tend to move on quickly from things when things aren't going my way. Patience. Tree Pose disciplines me to stay. To try again when I fall. To attempt to lift my hands and my gaze when I find stability. To root down through my feet and find grounding when I loose it. Tree Pose is a yoga essential - "root down to rise up". I will never continue to grow my limbs in life, if I forget my roots and loose my grounding. Sometimes it's a hard pill to swallow.
So, what do I plan to do tonight when I sign off and leave this for you to read? Open the windows to the coming rain, light a candle and pray on my mat. Because the truth is, I'm all out of answers and I'm exhausted trying to look for them. I am drained of trying to make what I want for myself work in my life, when clearly there is another plan for me. So, I will move gracefully and not so gracefully, and I might cry and I might get impatient, but I will move and I will pray.