Sunday, January 6, 2013
Yoga Everyday (6) - Gazing Upward
Yoga outside again, this time unplanned. Stepping out the front door to supervise a five-year-old wielding a hand-cranked drill, the blue sky beckons. You plant your Merrell snow boots into the icy ground, stand tall in tadasana, and gaze up.
Wispy clouds graze across the beautiful blue. Crisp air fills the lungs. Arms extend upward in delight. This is the hallelujah stance - body streaming between earth and heaven, arms reaching upward toward the wonderful mysteries that stream above. (Some would call it urdhva hastasana). The whole body lengthens, the heart lifts, the breath deepens, the soul expands.
Electric rivers of life awaken every cell, and you feel like laughing or shouting "thank you, beautiful day" or "bless the beautiful blue sky" or "oh, happy hallelujah." Whatever it is, suddenly you feel alive again.
The updward gaze continues until you see the bare fingers of the treetops behind you. They, too, are reaching upward toward who-knows-where. You feel so very small amid the grand trees. You sense the hugeness of the sky above. You marvel at the luck (the blessing) of standing right here, amid the beauty, just being a part of it all, one small speck among the wonders of the world.
You keep craning your neck until looking upward becomes looking back, and you realize that now the world has been turned upside-down. You continue to fall backward. The trunks of the trees come into view, followed by the snow blanketing their roots. The sky has become earth, the earth sky, and the trees' branches are now roots, reaching deep into the blue.
And you realize that you are dropping back, back, back in a beautiful and spontaneous backbend, your body opening and soaring along with the world around you. The feet are so deeply planted you know there is no place to fall. The legs are so strong and so faithful, you know they will support the arcing spine. The eyes keep gazing back in amazement and the arms keep reaching out to the beautiful world, until suddenly your hands settle back onto the snowy ground behind you.
Some would call this dropping from tadasana, mountain pose, into urdvha dhanurasana, the backbending wheel pose. Except it isn't. Or maybe it is, but it is more than that, too. It is an expression of delight, an affirmation of life, a joyful hello to the world, a hallelujah and a thank you all wrapped up in one. It is energy unbound, and yoga come to life.