Illustration: The Magazine of Yoga
Poet in Residence
Bodies and Voices
BY MAGAZINE COLUMNIST CARYN MIRRIAM-GOLDBERG
Kansans are good at surrender, and so are yogis.
Being both, you would guess it’s a cinch for me to let go and let the breath guide me home to life on this planet, in this particular time and place, and navigated through this body. Yet I seem to need a lot of signs screaming “Surrender, Dorothy!” across sky and airwaves before I come back to myself.
I feel this resistance to surrender acutely today. A fog-edged horizon, overcast sky that occasionally spits out freezing rain, and one after another bouts of frustrating challenges to meet via computer, store owner, acquaintance, and deadline dog me. My teenage son kicks the wall between his room and mine, letting me know of his refusal to do homework when he would rather play computer games.
The wind howls, the dog barks, the radio plays its incessant bad news.
It doesn’t help that for several days I’ve fallen off the better-health-through-diet-and-yoga wagon, and although the sugar high has faded, the call of the bakery is loud and clear. So is the call of the bed where I could prop myself up with pillows, put my laptop on a pile of blankets, and watch one predictable love story after another on DVD, stretching myself only to grab another pile of corn chips.
A conversation with habitual responses
So what’s a gal to do? I’m not sure, so I sit myself down and have a little talk with myself:
“You’re already in your yoga clothes,” I tell myself although, truth be told, I mainly put them on this morning because it’s so comfortable.
“And you’ll get in the car in 30 minutes and drive south to yoga.”
I roll my eyes at this, but nod. “Okay,” I answer myself. “But I won’t like it.”
“Maybe you won’t,” I answer myself, starting to worry that even when thinking about yoga – the yoking of all life – I’m dissociating myself into these two voices. Nevertheless, I continue, “But just by going, you’ll be practicing surrender.”
“$% surrender,” I answer myself, but I have no grounds to fight the call to yoga after several days of avoiding myself, and funnelling any energy into work or fretful sleep.
Curse the first downward dog and do it anyway
Besides, this old argument, the oldest and most basic I have with myself, is not about just Hatha yoga or just taking the next breath with awareness, but about about how to live when my habitual response craves comfort, even at the cost of being fully healthy, alive, vital. Sometimes the answer, or at least the result, is to go to bed early and dwell in true replenishment of the well.
Sometimes, most times actually, the answer is to keep on keeping on. Do it anyway. Curse the first dogward dog (as in, “Jeez, this is so hard after three days of not doing it!”). Consider for a few moments – before regaining my mind – that the teacher is out to get me. Then start to feel my breath, my pulse, my heart beating, my heart opening.
Like the famous heroine of my state (and state of mind), I’m learning that taking the next step, facing the obstacles, making some friends along the way with what threatens or surprises, and reclaiming my own power – right there in the click of the heels – is the only way back again to the miracle of this body at this moment.
Truly, there is no place like home.
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© 2011, The Magazine of Yoga, LLC.