Dear Friend of Yoga,
Yesterday was my day off, my “Sabbath” day, if you will, the one day a week that I do not teach yoga somewhere or have some other task to fulfill. Of course, as you might well imagine, quite suddenly this week, every day looks like that. Prior to this period of isolation, however, I most often did all that I could to keep my Thursday “holy,” by not agreeing to take on another task, and by holding fast to my commitment to give myself some space and time to rejuvenate my energy. Usually, that means getting outside, exploring woods, hiking a trail, taking a long bike ride, or paddling a local waterway in my kayak. Nature always provides me a balm, and it is the one counter-weight that never fails to bring me back into balance.
Almost forty years ago, an intriguing indie film of only music and time-altered imagery was released, entitled Koyaanisqatsi, a word lifted from the Hopi language, roughly translated as “life out of balance.” The entire film, a rather mesmerizing menagerie of nature, humanity, and the relationship between them, seemed to say that the turmoil of our modern world calls for another way of living. Today, this global experience of Covid-19 that has made so many of us stand still seems to be a devastating new manifestation of koyaanisqatsi.
Meanwhile, today is also the first full day of spring (and, my goodness, has it arrived with a thorough washing!), a time when we typically think and act in aspects of renewal. Yesterday’s vernal equinox (a day earlier this year than normal due to the leap day last month) has long been a special reminder and encouragement to me to correct the koyaanisqatsi of my life. Every month, the moon reminds us of our “true Self”: a full and vibrant light; and twice a year, with the vernal and autumnal equinoxes, the universe provides evidence that balance is possible, however fleeting, as the day and the night find equanimity.
Every day I step on my yoga mat, I am also seeking balance. Standing on two feet, Tadasana, is an act of balance. Raising one leg into Stork (Padahastasana), or Tree (Vrksasana), or Dancer (Natarajasana), or Warrior (Virabhadrasana) III, I challenge the foundation of that balance as I reach up and/or out, while holding myself up on the base of one leg. Some days those efforts come more easily than others, and isn’t that just like our lives off the mat. Cosmologically, each year, no two days are the same in any and every way, and for each of us, though they may sometimes feel like “the same old, same old,” no two days are ever exactly alike.
Most of us spend a tremendous amount of time doing, and very little time just being. That is a fundamental koyaanisqatsi of our lives, and it is why a “Sabbath Day” of some sort is so important for each of us. Yoga can be, in some small way at least, part of the balance that your busy and energetic life needs. Interestingly, this virus is forcing many of us to be more than to do. Oftentimes, when we are busy doing, we have to make or find time to be with our yoga practice; for those of us who might find ourselves just being a bit more these days, perhaps we will gift ourselves with the opportunity to do our yoga practice more regularly!
This spring when life, for many of us, seems more out of balance than ever before, look to the universe for inspiration. It’s the equinox, a time of cosmological balance! Yes, in the chaos of it all, and on the mat, we can still discover our balance.
P.S. I am close to offering a live stream of a class from my home. I will try to work out the kinks today, and will get back to you if it looks like a workable offering. My hope is to offer you something this weekend. I’ll be back! :