a particular kind of worship

Chaturanga dandasana.  Uttanasana.  Tadasana.  Savasana.

My body has developed muscle memories and attached them to the rise and flow of these Sanskrit words.  I bend and straighten, lift and lengthen in response.  I don’t often look to the screen anymore – just the sound of the words and the rhythm of my breath guide me in a practice dedicated daily to love.

Yoga is unlocking me.

I long resisted the mysterious otherness of this practice.  Yoga belonged to people who were not like me, who were more than me.  I negated my ability to release that fully into anything, not just bending and twisting into pretzelesque shapes, but giving myself over to something so far beyond physical.  Despite being surrounded by teachers who could have brought me here years ago, I held back.  I was not ready.

Now I respond to an inner call to move deeper.  Into the otherness inside me, into my physical body, into the depths of my heart.  Yoga called me.

So I bought a mat and began.

Cobra.  Warrior.  Triangle Pose.  Standing Forward Bend.  Downward Facing Dog. 

My body twists and bends.  My legs ground and steady.  My heart lifts and soars.  Muscles soften and strengthen. I root into the earth and stretch toward heaven.  My mantra – open, open, stay open – never more necessary than during my time on the mat. Losing my way requires only a return to breath.

My throat releases in the ocean sound of pranayama and I am free.

I feel the tearing of my right hamstring, an old dancing injury that will never fully recover.  I am aware of every bone of my back, the tightness of my legs.  I sense the tension in my hips, the way my limbs attach to my torso.  But my heart craves this as much as my body.  My increase in strength and flexibility seem irrelevant compared to the work this is doing on my soul.

There is no judgment here on the mat, only mindfulness. Growth does not always require insistence and force, sometimes we must merely learn to soften and release. I am beginning to understand what it is to be infinite.

There is a point where my practice shifts into a particular kind of worship.  There is holiness here; a scared power in the zone where body meets heart and they move as one. I am near tears and I feel myself opening from the inside out and expanding from the outside in.  Strength and vulnerability mingle with a sweetness that makes me fully aware of my own divinity.

Life has a way of bringing me back, over and over, to the mat.  I begin to grasp that all of life is practice, and that this practice is all of life.

Yes, yoga is unlocking me.

Nameste