About five or six weeks ago, an interesting inclination struck. I had woken early that day and put in a number of hours of work by 11:00 am. I was ready for a break when it hit. From seemingly out of nowhere, I felt the strongest urge to go to a yoga class.
Seven years earlier, when I lived in San Diego, I had taken up yoga for the first time. I’m not even sure I got that many months under my belt before an injury spoiled my practice. (I didn’t injure myself doing yoga, by the way, but rather while pushing weight at the gym.)
When I first moved to Austin, I tried to take up yoga again. This time, it was pain in my elbows that hindered me. If you can’t do downward facing dog, then you’re pretty screwed.
So last month, when the impetus struck, the first thing I did was look up the class schedule at my gym. Intriguingly, there was a class planned for noon, which gave me ten minutes to get myself out the door. Luckily, I knew exactly where my yoga mat was.
Seven years is a lot of time. These specific seven years marked quite a transition in my life. And they have taken their toll. However, although I may have lost physical strength and flexibility, I simultaneously gained sensitivity. Yoga helped me realize all of this.
In that initial class, I first realized that I could in fact hold downward facing dog. That meant that my shoulders and elbows were adequately healed. I was then surprised by my ability to hold some of the poses I hadn’t attempted in years. I wasn’t as weak as I thought.
On the down side, I realized how much rotational flexibility I had lost. Eight years ago, I played softball regularly, which entails a lot of twisting. Since then, about the only time I twist is when backing up in my truck.
The final and most profound thing that I noticed was the flow of energy in my body. No more than 20 minutes into the hour, I actually felt the kundalini energy rushing up and down my spine. For the rest of the day and into the next day, I felt a warm, tingly buzzing that was extremely pleasant! So this is why yogis and yoginis love yoga so much!
That first week, I attended two classes. This past week, I pushed that up to three. My body has so needed this.
Yoga is very rewarding. From week to week, I can see progress, both in strength and flexibility. There is plenty a novice can do, and yet the levels go up and up from there.
Slowly, I’m learning some of the Sandskrit names. In fact, just the other day, one of them was echoing in my mind. I kept hearing it over and over: Utkatasana. Although I recognize a number of names, Utkatasana is the only one I can say—and spell—so far!
But why Utkatasana? It is not the pose we do the most often, so why did that specific one stick? Well, after yesterday’s post, I figured out why.
Utkatasana is sometimes called “chair pose,” or more properly translated as “powerful pose.” This is what it looks like (above right). [Click on the picture to read more on Utkatasana.] After yesterday’s post, I realized that this pose exemplifies the Emperor. Chair pose is a beginner’s pose. One needn’t flexibility to assume it. However, the challenge is in holding the position. The more you sit, the harder it is.
My interpretation of the Emperor Tarot card is empowerment without action (or preceding action), for the Emperor is shown sitting on his throne. In my mind, I would call Utkatasana: “Emperor’s pose.” Sit—motionless—and display both strength and power. The stronger you are, the longer you can sit on your throne.
Symbolically, the throne is where we want to be. It represents experiencing success in whatever way we choose. Practice is how we develop.
In Journey to the Temple of Ra, John learns, practices, and teaches a bit of yoga. He is way ahead of me. I’m happy to say I’m progressing.
Yesterday, I received my promotional bookmarks. Everyone who ordered a book from me will get one (or two or three). The second proof got shipped out yesterday as well. I should be able to order books early next week.
I’m working on arranging another September book signing event in the Northeast—this time New York. I’ll keep you posted if it works out.