Freaky Friday: Balancing Darkness and Light with Fluid Awareness


March 20th was an especially Freaky Friday. Equinox marks a celebration of balance between darkness and light, and the dawn of the astrological sun cycle. We welcomed the first day of spring, the renewing energy of a total solar eclipse, and a super-charged New Moon in Pisces. These natural rhythms offer powerful symbolic opportunities to wash away that which no longer serves us, manifesting intrinsic alignment with our innermost selves and a greater universe at large. 

Here in Brooklyn, the seemingly relentless snow of winter gives way to spring rain, although not as soon as we'd might like. Seeds of change, quietly germinating under the retreating and terrible tide of March muck, poke their virgin sprouts through the filthy slush. What has changed in the winter darkness that we need to rebuild, repurpose, or banish? What weeds choke that which we wish to sow? What keeps us from feeling whole? And when our minds rehearse difficult times, unable to grasp a bigger picture, can we surrender to body consciousness so that we may continue to grow without being the very block that stands in our way? Through pattern recognition, yoga practice teaches us to watch resonance unfold in our bodies, minds, and lives. In our bones, as in all things, this resonance is encoded in spirals more ancient that our bones themselves. It is written in the very fluid that forms them.

As the weather warms, my body begins to feel lighter, less stuck, more mobile. I get so used to winter's heavy quality that I forget to feel it until it lifts, like a sudden flash of light revealing depths that were once in shadow. That old cliché, "carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders--" I see this in myself and in my students. "Pull your shoulder blades down your back--" I see it built into indiscriminate and over-used yoga parlance. In an era and a city where rising above the competition is valued above all, where fierce independence is sought over seeking support and rest in balance with our activity, how do we uncover intrinsically effortless pathways, by subtraction rather than addition? How do we allow this support to flow continuously through our bones, unbroken and whole, in arm balancing, in movement through space, and in the greater picture of our lives? Is it possible to feel feather-light, even when engaged in challenging work? I like questions more than answers. Bursting forth from the containment of winter, we enter the flowing creative possibility of spring. We embody the fluid possibility of taking on new shapes. We can better balance the metaphorical and somatic known, the brightness of the front body, that which we can see, with the metaphorical and somatic unknown, the shadow of the back body, that in ourselves which we cannot see. With awareness, we uncover less effortful movement patterns already within us. When it is time to rest, we learn to give our weight to receive support. The changes we wish to see are already within our grasp. These harmonizing spirals are already present within our bones and our lives. We only have to look for them. They whisper in quiet natural harmony beneath a louder false dissonant imposition. 

One of my teachers, Amy Matthews, said recently, and I believe she was quoting Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen's husband Len Cohen, Change happens in an instant. Getting ready for change could take a lifetime. 

In my classes this week, as we work with forearm balancing, eagle pose variations, warrior poses, and extended lateral angle pose variations, we'll explore the spiral movements we can uncover in an exploration of external rotation in our upper arm bones, internal rotation in our forearms, and pronation or supination in our hands. We'll look at how uncovering these patterns can offer a quality of lightness in movement through space and in weight-bearing, diminished effort and increased ease in placing our arms and gazes in yogāsana. We'll address overworked back and shoulder muscles from the heart, and overzealous front ribs from the voluminous breath of our back lungs. We're gonna dredge so deep that we unearth little known T-Rex pose, a powerful combination of a forearm-stand-prep variation on Vīrabhadrāsana I with Lion's Breath. King of the Jungle, King of the Terrible Lizards-- you get it, right? There might even be a dinosaur-reborn-as-eagle metaphor in there somewhere :-)

Happy Freaquinox, everyone!

Today the one inside you is collecting bones. What is she re-making? She is the soul Self, the builder of the soul-home. Ella lo hace a mano, she makes and re-makes the soul by hand. What is she making for you? --Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With the Wolves


Jalāya Namaḥ / Jalāya Svāhā  / Oṃ Namo Jalāya (Oh! Salutations to the auspicious power of flowing water (literally "big river") to cleanse and wash away our stuck-ness)

Playlist (big river mix):

Remedios The Beauty  --  Oren Ambarchi  --  Grapes From The Estates
At the Waterfall  --  Amir Baghiri & Mathias Grassow   --  True North
Le Chant Des Fauves  --  Tinariwen  --  The Radio Tisdas Sessions
Breathe . Something / Stellar Star  --  Flying Lotus  --  Los Angeles
Chocolate Lovely  --  Amon Tobin  --  Supermodified
Hannah's Conscious  --  The Knife  --  Hannah Med H Soundtrack
Slow Swords  --  Deerhunter  --  Weird Era Cont.
Sombre Reptiles  --  Brian Eno  --  Another Green World
18 (Watery Variation)  --  Stephen Vitiello  --  Bright And Dusty Things
Blue Silence (Bonus)  --  GHQ  -- Crystal Healing
An Ending (Ascent)  --  Brian Eno  --  Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks
Soham  --  Mathias Grassow  --  The Fragrance of Eternal Roses

Class Schedule for 3/17 - 3/23:

Tuesday 7pm, 75 min: open level vinyasa at Usha Veda Yoga, Greenpoint, Brooklyn

Wednesday 10am, 75 min:  open level vinyasa at goodyoga Bushwick, Brooklyn

Wednesday 7:30pm, 75 min:  open level vinyasa at goodyoga Bushwick, Brooklyn

Thursday 7pm, 75 min: open level vinyasa at Usha Veda Yoga, Greenpoint, Brooklyn

Friday 10am, 75 min: intermediate vinyasa with an arm balancing focus at goodyoga Bushwick, Brooklyn

Saturday 10:30am, 90 min: intermediate vinyasa at Greenhouse Holistic, Roebling location, Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Saturday 1pm, 75 min: open level vinyasa at Usha Veda Yoga, Greenpoint, Brooklyn

Saturday 3:30pm, 90 min: open level vinyasa at goodyoga Bushwick, Brooklyn

Sunday 4pm, 75 min: open level vinyasa at goodyoga Bushwick, Brooklyn

Sunday 5:30pm, 75 min: restorative yoga at goodyoga Bushwick, Brooklyn

Monday 7:30pm, 75 min: open level vinyasa at goodyoga Greenpoint, Brooklyn

Recommended astrological support (if that's your thing):