Blog » In Between the Expressions of the Pose
In Between the Expressions of the Pose
I recall running the Ottawa marathon a few years back. It was a sunny, spectacular day. The route took us through Rockcliffe Park, the wealthiest area of the city, home to several Embassies and diplomats from all over the world. Breathtaking homes. My legs felt strong, I had just met a very interesting guy named Doug and we ran and chatted for the first several miles. As Doug and I paced each other comfortably, this guy kept passing us, and then he’d show up behind us somehow, and slowly make his way by again. What was he doing? While Doug regaled us with stories of his all night 100 mile ultra marathon runs, we took note of the passer guy again. Every so often, he would veer off course and spring up onto the manicured greenery of these majestic properties and reach up and high five the people watching from their front lawns. He would then drop to his knees in front of their Better Homes and Gardens flower beds and inhale deeply the aromatic buffet of olfactory bliss. He would then rise, smile so wide you surely thought that his face would crack in half, then he would carry on his run! WHAT! I thought ?! . “Brilliant” smiled Doug as we all chuckled as the late 40’s guy kept running ahead to make sure he took it all in. This runner…was much separated from the start and finish of his marathon and brilliantly plugged into the in-between moments.
Much of our yoga practice focuses on the final expression of the pose as it appears on the cover of the yoga magazine, when truly the beauty and grace of a practice can be savored in the moments of engaged transition from one pose to another. When I think of watching a yoga sequence in person or on video, the expressions are wonderful but what really ties it together and gives it graceful strength and beauty, is the transitional fluidity. At times you will find these hard…and shaky and sweat invoking! This is because it is hard work, but so worth it. Rather than allow kinetic energy and gravity to fold your upper body forward, engage your core, bandhas, glutes, hamstrings etc to slowly and meaningfully express the transition in an engaged way.
In a recent class, we applied all of these principles to every movement and there was an “organic” response! It was hard work…the tribe had a full on sweat fest going on. And this because we simply slowed down the in between moments to half speed and drank in every angle of the transition from point to point.
Who hasn’t been in wide legged forward fold (prasarita padottanasana) and caught their breath, thinking awwwww crap here comes the part where we inhale and pull ourselves up! This part is haaaaaaaaaard. Rather than power through it, recall how it felt to lower into it, then as you bring your hands to your hips, lift and lengthen the torso, and on the inhale slowly leading with the crown of the head and rise forward and up as the hamstrings and glutes engage and drink in the sheer strength of your body and as you find that weak point in the movement and take a little longer just at that angle. This is where we need to build strength….the weaker link. This challenging pose can become a juicy and liberating symphony of mind and body if we step into the garden and smell the flowers along the way! The key here is a merging of mindfulness and body awareness. You can not savor it if you can not see it.
The passer guy wasn’t so focused on the finish line that he missed the vibrancy of the flowers along the way. I think I can remember my approximate time at that marathon, more or less, but I can remember in great detail, the look on Happy Runner’s face as he bounded down from yet another lawn to join us once again.
Like anything on your mat and in life, this takes practice…find the journey along the way to be those precious moments leading up to the final expression of your asana. Be mindful and drink it all in! See you on the mat.
Namaste Sisters and Brothers. Steve
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