Solstice weekend was a brilliant blast of nurturing sunlight that I felt perfect for reflection on the part of the cycle that has to do with growth. Earlier in the year, we planted a lot of seeds. Back on Mother’s Day, I planted the young corn plants featured in this blog. This is a very good time to look around and observe what is growing in your garden and life. Do you like what is growing? Is something missing that you might have forgotten to plant? Perhaps, you like what you have planted, but you need to create more space for it so it can grow unimpeded by obstacles.
During the month of June, I focused on stories of community. And what is a story if it is not a seed that gets planted through the listener’s ears into the rich soil of the heart to rise up through the mind to conscious awareness? I’ve felt the seeds of community growing in my life through my Yoga Shala kids yoga classes and my family yoga classes in the park. Each time I see new and returning students and family, I feel warmth in my heart that I get to share stories through the powerful discipline of yoga, and I am blessed.
Growth and tending to Growth is an interesting process in that it takes as long as it takes. Sometimes timelines, culture, finances, family, peers, and ego can pressure us into thinking that changes are not happening fast enough. But the Spirit inside us knows what’s going on. It knows that untimely action, stress, worry, and fear can actually slow, stunt, and ultimately stop Growth.
So in reflecting on Growth and Community, I have come to the decision that July’s focus will be Grounding- the ability to connect to the Earth and be present in the body right Now. Yoga is the practice of uniting seeming polarities. The plant that grows from a seed in the ground reaches for light that emanates from the Sun in the sky. However, the plant can only reach higher out of strength of its root system.
The same is true with yoga poses that require the practitioner to maintain a balance between two opposite directions. Arms may rotate inwardly upward while legs rotate outwardly downward. The spine may float up while the tailbone is sinking down. All of this balance has to be maintained through the breath that has a funny way of disappearing when a challenge is met!
So the story I plan to share with my kids yoga class this week as we transition from June’s focus on Community to July’s focus on Grounding is Katrin Hyman Tchana’s retelling of “Changing Woman” from her compilation of stories entitled Changing Woman and Her Sisters. Changing Woman is a Dine (Navajo) deity responsible for the creation of human beings and the preparation of the earth so that human beings could live here. As Tchana’s story relates, the first words Changing Woman spoke to her human creations after she gave them the ability to speak by blowing on them were, “Now you can tell one another stories.”
Just as we come together to be together and to share stories, stories form the ground from which our bodies rise, while the patterns of our movement through life become the stories we tell. The legacy of Changing Woman lives in our ability to live out our stories well, to shift endlessly, to surrender our defenses, and to create Beauty that can be passed down to the seventh generation.
Poses I Will Use to Share Changing Woman:
Happy Baby (Ananda Balasana)- This pose represents the infant that First Man finds being tossed on a mountain between Dawn and Darkness.
Dancer Pose (Natarajasana)- This pose illustrates the playful strength of big sturdy girl Changing Woman becomes next.
Warrior I (Virabhadrasana I)- As a beautiful young maiden, Changing Woman runs to the East, South, West, and North leaving precious stones beneath her feet everywhere she runs that can still be found in the mountains today.
Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II)- Changing Woman bathes in a waterfall as a fully-grown woman. She watches the sun’s rays make rainbows in the falling water, and thus becomes impregnated by the Sun with a pair of twins named Monster Slayer and Born for Water.
Squat (Malasana)- As an older woman, Changing Woman heads west to a house made of white shell and crystal where the earth meets sky. She creates the first eight humans and instructs them on how to find food and shelter, how to pray, and how to live together in peace.