Friday, October 22, 2010

Letting Go Into Movement

Judith Lasater, in her book "30 Essential Sequences" that I mentioned in my last post, suggests a mantra to go with each of her daily sequences. The mantra for Day Seven of the weekly sequence is "Letting go is not the same thing as giving up."

While I can see the wisdom in this point of view, and would dearly love to be able to let go of some of the old issues that make emotional and psychological peace elusive at times, not to mention those that cause physical pain and health problems, I had to admit that--until last night--the only alternative to letting go that I could truthfully imagine was, in fact, giving up.

Last night in our yoga "In Depth Studies" class, the instructor led us through an exploration of the second chakra, and in so doing, showed me a new way to think about the sometimes scary idea of "letting go." Physically located in the body at a position where the line between the hip points crosses the line between the naval and the pubic bone, this energy center, chakra two, has always seemed to me to be either vaguely threatening, too powerful to pay much attention to, or profoundly confusing.

The second chakra is, indeed, associated with lots of powerful and potentially scary things, not the least of which is our sexuality. Anodea Judith in her excellent book, "Eastern Body, Western Mind," explains that it is also often considered the seat of our emotions, of desire, need and pleasure. Because of all this, I know I am not the only one who has ever felt overwhelmed or especially vulnerable in this area of my body.

Another aspect of the second chakra, though, is that it is adjacent to the area of the body that allows us to move: the hips and the sacroiliac (SI) joints that connect the pelvis to the spine. So, the second chakra is associated with movement in addition to all the other powerful aspects of life that are located there. The flip side of this rather positive aspect of the second chakra is that energy which is not allowed to move freely through this area can get stuck or sent in the wrong direction, causing problems in the SI joints, back or leg pain, hip problems and many other things none of us want.

So, the lesson in last night's class was a very exciting, but very simple, different way to look at the second chakra. Our instructor led us through a simple exercise of carrying out a sun salutation sequence, which all of us had done many times in our yoga classes, but in a new way. She put on music and encouraged us to let our bodies move as if we were inspired by the sequence, but not rigidly bound to the forms.

Within a few seconds I saw what was happening: we were all dancing, everybody doing a slightly different version of sun salutation, but in a way that was truly a dance. I have always been a person who is easily inspired by music and can slip into tapping my foot, swaying and full-out dancing without too much encouragement, but I have to admit that I had never thought of doing my yoga as a dance.

The wisdom of this simple method greeted me this morning when I woke up, the pain in my hip and right SI joint that had been bothering me for days, completely gone. I had been experimenting with stretches in different directions and different ways, but the simplest approach had eluded me: all I really needed to do was let go and let myself move.

PS: the illustration I've used here is a photo of a painting I made many years ago, on a day when I was especially inspired by music and had learned the wisdom of letting go into movement. The story of how this painting came about will have to wait for another day and another post, though.

In the meantime: Namaste...and remember to dance!

No comments:

Post a Comment