Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Stream of Life

Spring is a time when I feel particularly lit up and enlivened.  The whole world is waking back up from winter’s sluggishness and darkness (especially this loooooong snowy, cold winter!) and there is a dynamic, energetic quality to the day that is so refreshing.  We have cherry trees in our yard and are blessed with the blossoms for just a couple of precious spring weeks every year.  My boys and I have been impatiently waiting and watching for them for a couple of weeks, and finally this week they are here!  We walked out Monday morning to an explosion of pink in our yard and danced with the joy of the Earth’s offering.  

Our poem this week is a beautiful explanation of why we get so excited by the blossoms of spring:

The Stream of Life - By Rabindranath Tagore

The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day runs through the world
and dances in rhythmic measures.

It is the same stream of life that shoots in joy through the dust of the earth in numberless blades of grass and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers.

It is the same life that is rocked in the ocean-cradle of birth and of death, in ebb and in flow.

I feel my limbs made glorious by the touch of this world of life. And my pride is from the life-throb of ages dancing in my blood this moment.

Looking out at the cherry blossoms, the tulips, daffodils, forsythia, magnolias and dogwoods, we experience the “stream of life that shoots in joy through the dust of the earth…and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers.”  It makes us aware of the life force that brings the seasons, the blossoming and the dying off, and reminds us that it is the same energy that lives inside of us.  We feel it as the blood and other fluids moving through our bodies, we feel it as the muscles contract and stretch as we move on our yoga mat (or anywhere for that matter), we are aware of it as we are aware of our breath and the prana (life-force) that comes in with the breath.   When recognize this energy inside ourselves, we recognize the beauty and splendor of it all around us and we can see the inter-connectedness of all things. 

Off the mat:
Find some time this week to be outside.  Surround yourself with spring’s bounty and relish it.  Lay down in a patch of grass, pick a flower and study it’s beautiful intricacies, go to the beach and visit with the ocean for a while.  The birds that migrate along the Atlantic Flyway are making their journeys right now so it is a great time for bird-watching.  I saw an Eastern bluebird last week that made my whole day!  Experience the stream of life outside yourself as a reflection of the beauty and diversity that also exists inside yourself.

On the mat:
The stream of life is an energetic stream, it flows from somewhere to somewhere else.  In our bodies, one of the ways we experience this flow of energy is to pull it from the edges of our beings into one of 3 energetic centers at our core, giving us stability and focus.   In Anusara-speak we call them Focal Points, and the one that is most active in a pose is the one that is closest to the foundation of the pose (the ground) and the most weight bearing.  They are:
1.    In the upper palate, just above where the hard and soft palate meet
2.    At the base of the heart
3.    In the core of the pelvis
This stream of life/energy is always with us, it is up to us how we wish to channel it, direct it, and align with it.  Using the Focal Points as we practice is a powerful way to direct the stream of life to strengthen and provide steadiness to our poses.

Open To Grace: With your breath feel the ebb and flow of the stream of life moving through you.
Feel your limbs made glorious by the touch of this world of life.
Feel the life-throb of the ages dancing in your blood.

Muscular Energy: Draw in the stream of life from the earth and the sky and the air and pull it into your (upper palate, heart, pelvis)
Pull the life stream from your hands and feet into your (upper palate, heart, pelvis) and feel it converge and grow there.

Inner Spiral: Widen your inner thighs and sit bones and open yourself to the stream of life.
Widen your inner thighs back and apart to make space for the life force to flow through your hips and pelvis.

Outer Spiral: Drop your tailbone like an anchor, tethering yourself to the stream of life.

Organic Energy: Feel your limbs made glorious by the touch of this world of life and offer through those limbs your blessings outward.
Send your life force with joy through the dust of the earth into numberless blades of grass.
From your (upper palate, heart, pelvis) let your energy spread out and break into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers.