Shining Star


Thud. That was the sound of a deep and delightful release of pressure in my lower back in yoga class this morning. It came as a surprise. Even though I have been doing this pose for years now, this was a unique healing experience.

Until today, this supposedly sacred and ancient asana evoked none but one mantra from me: ‘oh god, this torture again, what’s the point?!’  This morning, however, I forgot to think of my mantra and it was totally different.  I finally learned that the pose itself may be the same from class to class, but the experience of being in that pose can be unique every time. Yoga is becoming more to me than just getting through a sequence of poses because it emphasizes concentration on what it’s like to be in the pose and be moving through the sequence.

So the same pose becomes an evolving, dynamic, targeted effort – much like so many other things I do in life. It may not be until the thousandth swing of the shovel, but at some point the yogi may reach a well of nectar deep beneath the surface of the body.

The pose that I tasted this nectar in this morning is Marichiyasana C, named after the great sage Marichi. The name also means ray of light in Sanskrit, which is what our friend Marichi would eventually become; according to Indian mythology, he now exists as one of the stars in the constellation Ursa Major.

Mareechi C, as we call it, is a challenging seated twist which may take 5 days or 5 years to be able to get into. It often leaves the beginning practitioner for want of a deeper breath, longer arms, or even for the Ashtanga Yoga gurus to banish this pose from earth to outer space forever!

When I first learned this pose, the teacher told us to spread the shoulders as if to reveal the image of our beloved in the heart.  That sounded a bit sappy to me, so I just tried to turn and see the pictures on the back wall of the yoga room.

It worked. In time, the rising and spreading chest grew up and out of my guts, around which the hips relaxed and rested down into the floor.  The result was that sweet sensation of freeing the spine and the deep release I felt this morning.

But like all sensations, this taste of nectar is constantly changing, coming and going from breath to breath and day to day. I’ve been to enough classes now to know that tomorrow it may feel god only knows what.

But you can bet that I’ll be back in there again soon, playing with Marichi, concentrating on the breath and trying to catch this release again. This pose may be my shining star.


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