Himalayan goose

If I were a poet, this post would honor Rumi’s gift of making the world appear pregnant with infinite possibility. If I were a dancer, this post might invoke Gabrielle Roth’s 5 Movements, and move us to dance each other into trance. If I could paint a self-portrait, the canvas would vibrate with the transparency of the strokes that outline my form. If I were writing this post with my intellect, I might explain that this past week, I figured out one last big piece of the “who/how can I be?” puzzle; that after five years of doing deep internal work and finding clarity on so many issues (which is different from solving them), I was finally, when I least expected it, was made to understand something fundamental about what it is I need from my professional life.

giacomettiRight now, though, I am simply an observer of coincidences. I can observe that the last time that time seemed to fold on itself, I was in India. (Was that directive something from the Ramayana or something I will someday say?) I can observe that I found myself walking a razor’s edge of internal alignment the same week that the guru of enlightenment through alignment of the koshas passed in this form. I can observe that the week I realize what I really want to do when I grow up is actually what I have been doing on some level all my life – telling stories – is also the week when I write a blog post whose tone I can’t seem to control, because sometimes energies just envelope us.

I can observe that my cells and some subtle (body) drive of my life felt transformed the same week that I was given the pose karandavasana. Coincidence? Undergrad psychology professors made us promise we would not confuse correlation with causation, so I don’t know if I can say that. The pose inspires different things to different people. Awe, head-shaking, maybe a chuckle. For me, it is fascinating and fitting.

karandavasanaKarandavasana is sometimes called “mighty duck,” though I prefer the translation of “Himalayan goose.” What I love about this pose that I cannot yet do by myself is that it doesn’t make any sense — and it is perfect. It is life telling you the risks and the rewards just got amped up – but you have to surrender to not minding that you’re now upside down and backwards and trying crazy moves in the context of a practice that promised to not have anything to do with Cirque du Soleil. So yes, the same week that I started this ridiculousness of trying to balance on my forearms while floating up into pincha mayurasana, folding my legs into full lotus, controlling down and then coming back up and releasing my legs – all without knocking out my teacher’s teeth out — is the same week that I hear a quote I’ve never heard before: “Things are the way they are because they got that way.” So how do you manifest then? Or maybe the question is, how can you do anything other than manifest?

I can observe that the same week a sage owl told me to “keep the feeling” is the same week that I finally — after seven years of missed opportunities — got to see, live, how people on the same wavelength can make unbottleable music together. Rodrigo on lead guitar has the speed and power, but it is Gabriela on rhythm guitar who closes her eyes and lets her hands explore the landscape like no one else can. Can partnerships like that change destinies? I hope so.

I notice that the words I can’t stop feeling are shraddha and manifest. The pop songs and the preachers and the Sanskrit philosophers are right – you need faith. (“Patanjali says that Yoga has to be practiced without interruption, for a long time and with a firm, positive faith that the practice will get the results.“)

Dear reader, if you are still with me and are wondering what the hell I am trying to say, it is perhaps that I have more faith than ever that if you keep practicing with earnestness, you keep trying to soften that hardened heart space of yours and you work hard to “alchemize your word” — leave no space between your words and your actions — then some day, who knows. The universe lines up chance (?) meetings and things change — but in a way in which you are careful to not dream too specifically and in which you don’t ask for certainty from any circumstance or anyone. You just want to keep the feeling that there is a deeper well of creative shakti in you, and you are willing to walk along the edge of believing that there is something bigger you can work for. And you accept, finally, that your heart does break when values of people you respect are in discord with yours. And you accept that maybe, fine, fuck it, you’ll say it — maybe security is overrated and maybe you do care about being part of something big and maybe you won’t even use scare quotes around the idea of changing the world.

internalflamePeople matter. I cannot believe the court of sages and healers I have between my family, my friends, and strangers who are not strangers. And were it not for my husband and my ashtanga teacher (and, um, I really need a more accurate descriptor for her), I wouldn’t have had the courage to write this post about how I have stayed faithful to the ashtanga practice and Pattabhi Jois was right, all was coming. So much potential, huge mistakes. Redemption and luck. Integration, vibratory changes. The wheel of fortune turning for someone who, if nothing else, at least values gratitude and generosity – and yes, the shit gets real, fast. But surround yourself with the right people, and the universe acts as your tuner, coaxing sour notes into harmony. The rest will figure itself out — if you keep practicing with earnestness . . . and so on. And then the shit gets real again, and you are asked to return to the battlefield with Krishna, trembling from decisions that have to be made. The karmic wheel turns and rather than be afraid to say it even to yourself, you put it out there, even if people most definitely not on your wavelength might see the link.

And when, in a dream-like state, you loop back and try to be logical again and ask what any of that has to do with the ashtanga practice — and what happened this week, exactly? — you realize the pose is called Himalayan goose. As it should be.


Post playlist 😉

  • Rodrigo y Gabriela, “Tamacun
  • Zoe Keating,  “Fern

(Photo credit: Karandavasana shot via milopeng’s Flickr photostream thanks to Creative Commons. Giacometti pic taken at the Getty in May 2014 and yoga room shot taken last night.)

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