Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Hatha Dance

Yesterday in the Northern Hemisphere we marked the occurrence of the Autumnal Equinox, the day when summer turns to fall and there are equal parts of daylight and darkness as the sun sits at the zenith over the Equator. This is a beautiful time to be in nature and witness the unique quality of light making everything glimmer a little more than usual. We can literally feel the summer turning into fall with warmth at the peak of the day followed by cooler nights descending over us, like a blanket.

We can take cues from nature to inform our yoga practice. This is something the ancient yogis did as well as tribal cultures spanning history and the globe. The Equinox signals us that a time for going inward is approaching. The summer is a time when energy is focused outwardly, heat is generated and released and the balance tips toward external expression. Winter is the counterbalance to summer, where we maintain a softer internal fire and our practice can be more reflective. At the Equinox, we sense and embody a graceful equipoise and we participate in the Hatha dance, moving in and around that point of equilibrium. 

I was able to observe a perfect example of this dance as I sat next to the river yesterday. I watched a heron perched on top of a large rock in the middle of the water. He sat still for what seemed like a long time. Then, with purpose, grace and ease, he opened his wings and took flight over the river. I thought of heron pose (krounchasana) in yoga, and then I thought of the many poses of Hatha yoga giving expression to what we see in the natural world. In Sanskrit, Ha means sun and tha means moon; through the practice we balance both solar and lunar energies, internal and external, passive and active. We go inward to connect deeply, then we turn outward, giving expression to our inner light and bliss. 

Now, and at all times of the year, we can purposefully embrace the ongoing dance in our yoga practice, and in all of life. Our gaze moves inward to our center, and out again into the world. We connect deeply with our self, our surroundings, and the people around us, and we notice that we are all dancing. Yoga fosters an awareness of the universal choreography at play in our minds, bodies, and in the world at large. 

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