Help! My subtle body is on fire!
Another current running through our posts of late has been the imagination.
We pointed out David Garrigues’ suggestion to think more imaginatively about your body and your practice to help move things forward. Bobbie noted how India has an imaginative geography that the British, with their plumb bobs, tried to dismantle.
It may also tie into a discussion about moving beyond just an asana practice. (If you aren’t exercising your body, you’re probably exercising your mind, right?)
Today, during practice (yes, this is one of our rare practice posts), I had a fairly intense moment of asana and imagination converging.
I was moving into Janu A, a pose I’m always careful with to start as I make sure my right knee isn’t too wonky. And then Jörgen Christiansson appeared, and began to press me down toward my straight leg.
And he smelled of sulfur. He’d just finished lighting the altar lamps, and so the match smell still lingered.
They say smell is a powerful trigger for emotions or memory; well, apparently it can also be a powerful switch for the imagination because I was lost in an image of my hamstring and hip — the areas that were stretching and “hurting” during the adjustment — burning, crackling apart like a well-burned log, ashes falling away.
I shared this image with Bobbie when I got home, and her response was that it seemed pretty terrifying. I can understand that, but in the moment it seemed a helpful way to imagine the body loosening up, all the stiffness and resistance burning away like ash.
Tapasya, right? Agni at work.
I’m not sure this particular image will help again, but it was absolutely the most dramatic I’ve ever experienced during yoga. (My favorite and the one that I’ve found the most useful is during pranayama, when you imagine pulling the breath in to each chakra in succession, and then breath out the same way. That image “sticks” with me.)
At the very least, my psoas still feel a bit on fire, so the embers are still burning a bit.
Posted by Steve