I took all of my Christmas decorations down yesterday, hedging my spiritual bets. It is, after all, 3 Kings Day, the Twelfth Night, the last official day of the holiday; and as is typical, I want to make sure I have all my ducks in a row so I can be ready to be gifted, spiritually speaking of course! And inherent in that statement, although it has a lot of audacity to it, lies the manifestation of an enormous personal transformation.
It’s hard to conjure up that change when I am working the asana or posture portion of my yoga lifestyle. I can be so obsessed with the physical expression of my practice of yoga that even something as simple as butt strengtheners, a form of functional yoga therapy for the glutes, becomes an exercise in self affirmation, a validation of prowess, a form of perfected self-love. On some level, I believe that if my butt is stronger, my life will be better.
The same could be said for handstands in the middle of the room, or most of the arm balances, many of which my colleagues and friends can do with ease, or even sometimes a posture as regular as uttanasana, standing forward bend; hamstrings screaming, I might be the tightest yogi the world has ever known. It’s not hard to imagine really, the picture creates itself; the limited belief that the physical sheath, in Integrative YogaTherapy it’s called the anamayakosha, leads the way.
And even though I am grunting my way through an ass lifting regimen this year that is meant to erase all of the accumulated cellulite of 4 children in 3 pregnancies, an unhealthy relationship to Hellmann’s mayonnaise that spans decades and the convergence of a certain kind of genetic predisposition to ample backsides, I know that my awesomely lifted butt will not make me happier, more peaceful or bring me more significant joy. It’s still just my butt.
Therein lies the spiritual transformation; and this is the great gift of the daily practice of yoga as a lifestyle. I yoke mind body and spirit and it is my spirit that leads the way. I am not called to the practice of yoga on or off the mat to live a life of physical prowess, material wealth or mindful egotistical assertions, but to express myself limitlessly through the heart; in love with my own shimmeriness awakened as it manifests from the inside out.