asana blog

The Call Has Come

We live in hard times. In one big sweep, all of the veils that we have been hiding behind have been lifted.  Many among us are left staring down the barrel of our own denial.  We have been waiting for things to change, to take their course, and now they have.  But for an undeniable portion of the population, the change was a brutal blow.  Where I live in Northern California, the actual outcome was spoken of as an impossibility and now there are masses of broken hearted, afraid, angry people compelled to ACT.

 

Social media is overflowing with suggestions about ways to get involved.  Write letters, make phone calls, MARCH.  Yes!  Stand up, claim the right to be here, to have a voice, to fight for what you desire, but there is more to it than that.  In order for this work to have a deep and lasting impact on the current reality in which we live, we MUST be doing the same work inside of ourselves.

 

Stop what you are doing and close your eyes.

 

Call up all of the characteristics about yourself that you loathe: desperation, sadness, loneliness, fear, worry.  Stay there.  Look at what you push away, look at what makes you cringe about yourself.  Look at your hidden, shameful pieces. Look them all straight in the eye.  This is the only way.  We can’t keep turning away from what is rumbling under the surface, screaming to be seen.  We can’t expect others to change if we are unwilling to change ourselves. We can’t stay ignorant or in denial of our own unlovable parts, yet expect the world to transform into a more loving and accepting place. If we cannot see our disapproval of others as pieces of ourselves, nothing will ever change.

 

The philosophy of Tantra teaches that what is within us is manifested in the world.  The most advanced Yoga Practice is owning and assimilating ALL pieces of ourselves into an integrated whole. Even the things we want to forget, we accept, and that is the most IMPACTFUL work we can do.  As we assimilate and integrate our shadows, we will also step more and more into the ownership of our GREATNESS.  We will more willingly see what we have to offer, what is loving and loveable about ourselves.  When we do the work of understanding ourselves, then we can move out into the world with the ability and skill to understand others, really.  

 

Judgements and separation exist in the world, because they first exist inside.  If we can move toward internal non-judgement and unity, then our outer world will start to reflect our internal state. So we MUST, start doing the work.  The practices of yoga, meditation, and self reflection are more important now than ever.  It is NOT selfish to take the time, it is the most powerful thing we can do for the world.  What if the willingness to do your internal work was what you gave the world?  


Start wherever you are.  Whether it’s asana, running, journaling or making art.  Prioritize your internal work as PARAMOUNT.  Going to an asana class can be the first step in making radical revolutionary change in the world if you are willing to show up fully.  We are all being called to ACTION.  Don’t forget that the call is as much an internal one as an external one.  As you show up for the protests, call the congressmen, write the letters, show up equally for yourself.  YOUR practice, whatever it is, will make all of the difference.  

The Call Has Come Meditation
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Pose of the Month: Parvritta Parsvokonasana

Life is a series of revolutions.  Usually that word has connotations of conflict, fighting our way through situation after situation, or even in struggling for liberation, but more it can also mean that every event and action is a series of cycles meant to bring us back to our source.  How we choose to deal with each revolution is a defining point in the difficulty or ease of our lives.  When we choose to muscle our way through these revolutions, we notice that we keep fighting the same fights over and over again.  It is possible that the circumstances or the players change from situation to situation, but the underlying experience remains the same.  What we learn from an asana like Parvritta Parsvakonasana (Revolved Side Angle Pose) is that the more we surrender into the experience, the more effortless and accessible it becomes, and the more we are able to sit within our challenges to see that surrender is our greatest path to the source.



So many of our cultural references point us toward effort and the importance of winning.  “No pain, no gain,” “it’s a dog eat dog world,” “get ahead or you’ll get left behind” are all ways that we convince ourselves that success is proportionate to the amount of effort we give, and in no way related to patient acceptance of where we are at.  We are not often encouraged to let go into our foundation of strength and be open to whatever experience we are having in the present moment while we patiently wait for the next experience to present itself.  Muscling through an asana like Revolved Side-Angle pose can be a risky lesson in pushing ourselves into injury and perpetuating imbalance.  Just as in life, if we approach Parvritta Parsvakonasana with a sense of balanced strength and openness to the present experience, we may find a world of delightful unfolding waiting for us.

Parvritta Parsvakonasana requires a commitment of strength to maintain the basic structure of the pose.  The deep hip flexors (psoas, pectineus, and the anterior adductors) of the front leg work to create balance, stability, and core strength in the pose, as does the gluteus maximus on the back leg.  In order to find the most freedom and spinal rotation in this pose, you have to powerfully engage the supportive muscles of the legs and deep core.  Too often, practitioners will place their focus on the rotation of the spine at the shoulder girdle and allow the strength of the core and the support of the legs to go lax in order to achieve a greater amount of twist.  

The torso is rotated by the superficial abdominal muscles that angle across the abdomen, muscles which are often overlooked in all deep twisting postures, and compensated by the less supportive muscles of the shoulder and upper arm.  These muscles are easily overworked (or excessively torqued) in order to achieve a look of deep twisting, but in actuality this is the location of refinement and grace.  When we can depend on the strength and stability of our core to maintain our balance and initiate the revolution, we do not have to overwork the deltoids, pectoralis major or biceps brachii to deeply lever the force of the twist, and instead we can open into the length and rotation that are an outgrowth of awareness and surrender.

Surrender doesn’t equate with weakness.  At moments in our life, surrender requires the most strength of all.  When we trust in the deep strength within us, and choose to act from this space, then the “fights,” or difficulties of life are enveloped with a deep sense of ease and space.  When an opportunity for revolution arises, a deep exploration of an asana like Parvritta Parsvakonasana can prepare us to root deeply into our strong, balanced essence, and open to the movement back to the source instead of away from the point of initiation.

Approaching our revolutions in this way, with a heart of trust and acceptance, will lead us to growth and expansion.  It will cycle us back to the core of strength and stability within in a way that will allow us to stop the destructive, repetitive cycles of fighting our way through our experiences.  In yoga, all experiences are full of purpose and potential to turn toward the unwavering, constant source within each and every one of us.  Approach Parvritta Parsvakonasana in this way, and you may find that you no longer have to push or force your way into this twist, and can instead, open to it’s beauty and to the fluidity of the breath to guide you deeper into your source. 

Copyright YogaBasics.com, reprinted with permission.