Autumn has arrived. For many places that means falling leaves and cooler temperatures. Here in California, the beginning of fall feels like an extended summer, a lingering house guest that just can’t seem to get the hint that’s its time to go. Despite the heat, we can still feel a softer sun against our skin as we shift away from the long days of radiant light. That’s one thing that everyone in the northern hemisphere shares, the slow march into the darkening of days.
And with that, our practice and awareness shifts too. While summer was a time of playfulness in the studio (and out), full of lively backbends, of deep hip openers, serpentine swirls, and joyous sahaja, fall begins a trek into the inner wilderness. The season brings reminders of life’s ebb - fading flowers, drying leaves, colder days. As the earth moves inward, so do we, our mythic unconscious confronting the shadows where the fear of life’s mysteries reside.
In the days during Ganesh Chaturthi (a celebration of the Hindu god Ganesha, remover of obstacles) -marking the end of summer and beginning of fall- we confronted fears head-on. Acknowledging and working toward removing our obstacles seemed like a great way to kick things off. We bravely worked our way into two challenging arm balances, Bhujapidasana (Shoulder Pressing) and Pincha Mayurasana (Feathered Peacock). Although totally different, they are both equally daunting for the intermediate practitioner. Why? Well, it’s simply, really: no one wants to get hurt. Isn’t that true for all things?
We usually stop ourselves from taking risks because we are afraid of how we might get hurt. Starting a new business - losing money. Ice skating - falling and breaking a leg. Telling someone we love them - risking rejection. The truth is: None of these things are going to hurt us. If we take the appropriate and necessary steps. If we take the time. If we remove the obstacles in front of us like fear. Impatience. Disbelief. Attachment to outcome.
Breaking down the postures, understanding the work to achieve the poses, and making progress toward embodying the asanas -without attachment- builds our strength step by step. It’s this undertaking that develops the physical, emotional, and spiritual fortitude we need to master the asanas- and the inner journey.
As we begin to embody these poses, we are forced to examine our limitations and fears. We recognize exactly where we are in a pose, what we are capable of right now and how much -or how little- work we have left to be able to experience sthira within the asana. Are the hips open enough to bring the legs over the shoulder? Is the core strength solid enough to stabilize? Then we go deeper to the question of our capabilities. Am I strong enough? Am I flexible enough? Do I have the stamina? Am I as good as the person next to me? Where ego gets involved, we have to remember to let go. We can allow our fears to dictate our experiences, or we can use the asana to work with, explore, and transform that fear. These are all issues that invariably come to our minds and it is work- real work- to extract the truth about our present situation. But this work -the techniques, the patience, the self-compassion necessary to overcome the obstacles on the mat- reflects where we are in our lives off the mat.
The tools we gathered during that practice will serve us well now that Ganesh Chaturthi is over and the journey into fall continues. We will begin with the exploration of space and expansive energy in order to make room for all the acorns we must gather... Fall is for grounding, so we move into the Earth element to balance the Vata in the air so that we may look into this meeting point of lightness and darkness, of life and death, with a clear and steady mind, a strong rooted foundation, and a warm honey heart.
©Kerry Ann Lambert, 2015. Please be honorable. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site's author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Namaste.