We are settling into the time of year when there is more darkness than light… shorter days, longer nights and lots of time to really explore the essence of shadow. The tendency is to think of shadow in negative terms, when actually the shadow is as important to the Light as the Light is to shadow. Each make the experience of the other more real and beautiful, more intense and illuminating.
Today in yoga class the teacher introduced the Bird Of Paradise pose. As she demonstrated each nuance of getting into this position, there was an array of expressions from awe to the incredulous and “yea right” sentiments. And it occurred to me that in that moment, we were all having an experience with shadow!
Shadow implies something hidden, something the dwells in the realm of the unknown. So, here we were, witnessing an unknown and in being suspect, at best, as to our own ability to achieve the pose, we were, in fact, having an experience of shadow. In the willingness to try the pose, however we were able, we were then shifting the experience into the known and thus pouring Light into the shadow of the moment.
As children, we were always seeking new experiences! As adults, the tendency is to settle into grooves of known and comfort zones, rarely seeking to explore the unknown of our being and of the greater world in which we live.
As I watched that pose unfold before my eyes, from downward dog, to lunge, to vine and then up to this seeming contorted pretzel standing position – I felt excitement, as if I couldn’t wait to try!! Just to try it, to reach and explore that unknown and see what my body would do. As such, I was the only one in the class to get into the Bird Of Paradise pose and hold the balance of it. I am sure state of mind had a lot to do with it – never once slipping into doubt or fear of falling over or appearing inept! As with every other aspect of our lives and experience, the unknown, caverns of unexplored potential and considerations of fear are merely opportunities to bring new awareness into our capacities, our strengths, the Mystery and Light of who we are.
If ever you were going to reach into the unknown of who you are, now is the time. Never has our Light, the beauty and strength and power of who we are been more supported. And have fun with the discovery of it all. Today, as everyone was falling over and crouched in awkward stages of the pose, I chuckled to myself that perhaps “turkey vulture” might be a more apt description than Bird Of Paradise. 🙂 And then I recognized the metaphor that could be applied to all experiences we hold in shadow. As long as the unknown remains unexplored, be it in experiences, relationships, spirituality or even the unknown of ourselves – the shadow is likened to a turkey vulture – ugly, foul, met with disdain and more than anything, misunderstanding. But in bringing the unknown into the known and shining light on the mystery of who we are, we potentially emerge with the strength and awareness and beauty of a “Bird Of Paradise”, among the most captivating creatures on Earth.
Bird of Paradise (Svarga-dvijasana)
Well, I’m impressed with your ability to get into this pose 😉
I know my hip area is tight, which seems to prevent me from doing some poses at all or incompletely. A teacher recently remarked that our fear lives in this area (naturally…chakras) but I’m wondering now…is it fear keeping me “stiff” in this area? Keeping me from really loosening this part of body….or the fact I need to remember to BREATHE into poses. The breath will assist in releasing that which keeps my tendons, muscles and everything else tight and unmoving. To KNOW that my body is an incredible piece of work….a creation of God/dess <3
It is really impressive given how we were taken INto this pose – first downward dog, then lunge, then vine, and THEN while all twisted like that coming onto one leg and lifting up! HAHAHA what a test of perseverance and fortitude! Lots of focus for sure! My lower body is limber and strong – it is my upper body that I am intent on refining or reDEfining. I love developing this new relationship with my Self! ♥♥♥