There are months when my “assignment” of writing a poem for the Evolution newsletter is delightful. I pinch myself. I can’t believe I get paid – in classes or cash – to write a poem about or inspired by a yoga pose or theme. Having a deadline creates the momentum of necessity. I can’t wait around for inspiration to strike; I simply have to sit down, start writing, and see what comes.
Today, though. Ugh. I’ve been sitting here contemplating Parivrtta Trikonasana – revolved triangle pose. I get up from my desk. I do a short series of standing poses. I make some hot cereal and eat it out of the pot, reading yesterday’s horoscopes in the paper. I sit back down. I check email (again). (And again.)
This pose is challenging for me. I find the twist difficult. I feel pinched, constricted in my side body. I am probably overextending, trying to go deeper into the pose than I am ready to go. I get a block. I place my hand on the block. Rather than thrusting my other arm behind me and upward towards the sky, forcing my shoulder somewhere it ain’t gonna go, I simply fold my arm across my lower back. I try twisting ever so slightly. I look down to see if my heels and hips are in line. I shorten my stance a little.
I sit back down and try to start again. Nothing.
I get back on the mat. After a few sun salutations, my breath reflexively deepens. It reminds me of a dog who is instantly ready to play the minute you toss that ball across the yard. It sees the ball and recognizes its meaning. Ball = play. Yoga = breath. My breath is a dog. Is that poem material?
I know better. What I know better than is to think this has anything to do with how “well” I can “do” the pose, how beautifully I can balance, how deeply I can twist, how fully I can express this asana. I know better than to attempt to draw a literal line between the posture and the poem. What is this all about then? The practice, of course. Always the practice.
I think of some poses are being “harder” than others. There are the ones I avoid, the ones I’m afraid to try. I’m afraid less of not being good enough and more of my own limitations, of hurting myself. The only times I have ever hurt myself in yoga have been when I pushed, not pushed as in “took a risk,” but pushed as in “didn’t listen.” OK, OK, I am probably afraid of not being good enough, too.
Revolved triangle has the potential of being one of those devilish poses for me. It looks simple enough, right? Just revolve your triangle. Simple, right? So deceptive. I place my hand again on the outside of my front foot. I stay here. I stay here and take several breaths. This is revolved triangle. I notice my hips, my feet, my neck, my spine. This is revolved triangle. I place my other forearm across my lower back. No twist yet, just more staying, more breathing. This is revolved triangle. Very slowly, so subtly that you might not even see it, I find the twist. Someday, I may extend my arm upward, behind me, creating a clean line between heaven and earth. But today, this is revolved triangle. This is practice.
“Perfection is the enemy of completion.” I can’t remember where I came across this, but it struck me as true then as it does now. So today, to write the perfect poem for this pose would mean to not write any poem at all. To complete the practice though, to complete the poem, to “get” this pose, must mean only one thing: to show up here, to breath into it, to listen carefully, to move slowly, to twist from within and not for show, and to know that it will evolve, and deepen, and change over time.
I am reminded now of something. The poem I can’t seem to write today is only the fantasy poem, the perfect one, the one I “should” write. And that fantasy revolved triangle, the one that looks like the gorgeous yogi on the cover of a magazine in her gorgeous yoga oufit, the perfect one, is one I will never replicate. And then I get it, all at once. This is revolved triangle, and this is the poem.
p.s. I still have to write the poem!!! This is the part where I take a break.