(Photo & Quote from yogadivya)
The journey began nearly two years ago, but the two passions of mine–yoga and teaching–are finally merging together. As of this morning, I received my first “assignment” before official teacher training has even begun. The email from one of my instructors asked, “We’d love to get to know you a little better, so we’ve got a question. What pose powers your soul?”
WAIT, I’M SUPPOSED TO PICK JUST ONE POSE? BUT I LOVE THEM ALL! I LOVE ALL THE ASANAS!
I contemplated this question all morning. I mentally ran through each pose I’ve practiced over the last two years and after much thought, I came to this:
Thanks so much for this email! I’ll admit, this question you pose is a tough one that I dedicated the entire morning to thinking it through. As I listen to my Pandora Yoga station at work and reflect over the last year and a half and think about where my practice as taken me, I am mentally going over each asana in my head and the pose that powers my soul is Child’s Pose (Balasana).
At first, I struggled with the pose as both an active and relaxing one. It forces me to come back to my mat, give gratitude to the practice and to myself, and be still with my thoughts. It is active in that we reach forward, elevating our elbows off of our mats, but it is meant for us to rest our third eye to the floor and breathe deep into spaces that need our attention. The forever-child in me loves this pose because it is playful yet restorative. It is also grounding in the sense that I know Child’s Pose is there for me in case I need to come back to it, catch my breath, and remind myself that mistakes happen and my practice is not meant to be perfect. It is a reminder for me to never be overly confident, to be humbled by the falling out of poses, and to never lose the sense of wonder that brought me to my mat in the first place.
Because as hard as I racked my brain, I kept coming back to Balasana’s simplicity in positioning the body (at least for me) and comforting abilities with chin tucked toward chest and eyes closed. Every so often, I find myself rushing through a sequence, unable to link breath with movement. I am not reaping the benefits of a solid yoga practice as I flow through each pose with no real conviction in my movements. And usually when this occurs, I bring myself to Child’s Pose. Both active and restorative, I am able to focus on breath, quiet my thoughts, be one with my mat until I am ready to move back into the rhythmic flow.
Lately, I’ve been giving myself “timeouts”. Seriously. Far from an act of punishment, my timeout is more or less a moment of clarity when I know I’m doing too much too fast and am spiraling toward a crash and burn-type situation. Dealing with anxiety and depression has made me profoundly aware of these near-breaks with sanity. When you deal with mental illness, it’s almost like having an enlightened perspective on life. You think differently; therefore, you act differently; henceforth, you view things on a level most people have a hard time seeing. So we bow out with grace. We come back to one act, one quote, one book, one of everything in hopes of feeling whole again.
By nature and strong genetics, I am an anxious person. Over the years, it has been manageable but there are still those days where I am overwhelmed by being overwhelmed. Before I let my anxiety get the best of me, I come to my mat, specifically to Balasana, where my third eye rests heavily on the ground but my arms actively reach forward–for peace, for even breaths, for attaining complete silence in my head which tends to go into overdrive if I am careless with my physical and mental health. Before long, I am breathing into the tense parts of my body and melting into my mat. Beautiful, calming, even breaths of victoriously conquering yet another minor panic attack.
So when I am asked which pose makes my soul feel powerful, I am to reply with “Child’s Pose” with good reason. When I am at my most vulnerable, I am also at my strongest and most open to learning about who I am and where my practice is taking me. It is through this self-discovery in Balasana my soul feels on fire and full of gratitude. And now, I ask you:
What pose powers your soul?