Be Strong In Your Warrior

One is not supposed to think during Yoga. You know the bumper sticker slogan "Go with the flow"? I'm thinking some yogi coined it. Yoga is about flowing. I know this because I got to thinking today, during yoga, and when I opened my eyes at the end of practice, I was facing the back wall, while everyone else was facing forward.

yoga.jpg

But first, before beginning the practice, we take time to focus our intention.

I’ve had loads of practice thinking, mulling, musing, pondering, "daydreaming" as my grandmother used to call it which sounded so pleasant, positive even, in contrast to other terms letting your mind wander is called: "Procrastinating", "Wasting Time", and when it goes on too long it morphs into "Resisting" as Steven Pressfield discusses in War of Art.

In an interview about her writing process (which I searched for but couldn’t find, as I didn't want to waste any more time looking) Isabel Allende said she "dreams" her stories. She watches the scene play out in her head, then writes it down. (And I seem to recall she actually lies down while "dreaming"--as in on a bed. Maybe with a pillow and blankie . . .

What's the difference?  Focused  Intention.

I've tried "dreaming" my scenes, playing them, working through them in my mind. And it works--but only if I'm walk-dreaming or ironing dreaming or  cooking dreaming. Flat out out on the bed or in a chair turns to "NAP TIME". 

I've tried "dreaming" my scenes, playing them, working through them in my mind. And it works--but only if I'm walk-dreaming or ironing dreaming or  cooking dreaming. Flat out out on the bed or in a chair turns to "NAP TIME". 

I have the same problem during yoga. At the end of each practice we lie in “corpse pose” (pretty self-explanatory: lay flat on your back on the ground like you’re dead.)

However, even with the instructor’s warning: “Tell yourself you are practicing deep meditation, you will not move, you will not fall asleep…” I’ll find myself jerking to attention or snorting awake. Maybe more than once, my friend Mimi had to give me a nudge. 

"I am practicing deep relaxation. I will not move. I will not fall asleep zzzzzzzzz"

"I am practicing deep relaxation. I will not move. I will not fall asleep zzzzzzzzz"

When I think "yoga",  Love-not-War, Flower Power and "Peace, Dude" comes to mind, not battle. Which makes flowing through a series of warrior poses seems oximoronic (if that’s even a word). Today, when Catherine said, as she does every yoga session “Stand strong in your warrior",  this oximoronosity--which self-corrected to monstrosity--came to mind.

As I stood, with my back leg stretched, front knee bent, staring past my quivering fingertips, pushing down through my aching legs in one of my mightiest Warrior 2 ever, I pondered the purpose of these Yoga Warrior poses.

Why would a peaceful practice such as yoga need warrior poses? What do flower power peace dudes have to do with battle?

Why would a peaceful practice such as yoga need warrior poses? What do flower power peace dudes have to do with battle?

I must share how, in spite of my pondering--or maybe because of it--2 out of 3 of my Warrior Poses were Stellar. 

Okay, so my Warrior Three was wobbly. In my defense, I was thinking . . .

Okay, so my Warrior Three was wobbly. In my defense, I was thinking . . .

It was not my best yoga day. (“Thinking, mulling, pondering” and “listen and follow directions” are mutually exclusive.) It was not my best work day, either. This question of why peaceful yogi-types would spend so much time and energy posing as warriors won. I couldn't let it so. So instead of sticking to the tasks I'd set for myself, I searched the internet for answers. 

Validation came when I came across an article in Yoga Journal  which also challenged warrior pose's role in yoga:  

Given that the ideal of yoga isahimsa, or ‘nonharming,’ isn’t it strange that we would practice a pose celebrating a warrior who killed a bunch of people?
— Richard Rosen, a contributing editor to Yoga Journal and the director of Piedmont Yoga Studio in Oakland, CA.

Rosen's conclusion is that the yogi is doing battle against her own ignorance. . . trying to "rise up out of your own limitations."  Which is not easy! Battling oneself never is.

Is this why we resist? Why we avoid? Procrastinate? (Which, I'm compelled to restate for the record, is so not the same thing as daydreaming. . . )

Fame is no insulator. Allende, author of 20 highly-acclaimed books, most recently Ripper, battles, too.

Fame is no insulator. Allende, author of 20 highly-acclaimed books, most recently Ripper, battles, too.

Each Jan. 7th, Isabel Allende prepares--focuses her intention. Jan 8th, she begins each new book.

Why Jan. 8th? Allende explains: "My daughter, Paula, died on December 6, 1992. On January 7, 1993, my mother said, ‘Tomorrow is January eighth. If you don’t write, you’re going to die.’"Her mother went to Macy's and when she returned Allende had taken up the gauntlet.

The only hard thing about writing is sitting down,” Isabel Allende noted. “The rest is so easy and so wonderful.
If you attempt to stay in it [warrior pose] for any length of time, you’ll confront your own bodily, emotional, or mental weaknesses. Whatever limitations you have, the pose will reveal them so that they can be addressed....When viewed this way, practicing Warrior [pose] can be seen as fighting the good fight.
— Tim Miller, director of San Diego's Ashtanga Yoga Center

What tool does Allende take with her to battle. What reminder to keep her focused. To help her stay strong in her warrior? A candle.

 In an interview with Bill Moyer she shared how she lights a candle when she begins writing. "It's a real candle, but it's also a metaphysical candle," she told him.

And if I have a candle, for as long as the candle is burning, I write. And then, when it’s over, when it burns off, I can have dinner and get out, and do things.
Imagine, each of these candles represents pages, chapters, novels . . .

Imagine, each of these candles represents pages, chapters, novels . . .

Today has been a battle. A battle to stay the course in yoga. A battle to stop puttering and sit down to the work I had planned for the day (a battle I lost.) And most frustrating/time consuming of all, a battle to publish this posting. Three times I'd been clicking away and something went wrong. It would have been easy to quit and turn to those many things I had planned to accomplish today. Important things. But working through this notion of what Warrior meant, which had taken hold of me as I  stared down the length of my outstretched arm. And so, I soldered.

How-to Focus Intention:

First: admit it. No matter what differences we are trying to make, what we are trying to create, to change, it is a war we are fighting. A war against taking the easy road, playing it safe. 

Second: Arm yourself with whatever will help you focus your intention, be it yoga mat, walking desk, chocolate bar reward, candle. . . 

Third: Attack!

 If you're reading this, I won! And it feels darn good. 

BE STRONG IN YOUR WARRIOR