Stress can be creative
Here I am in Child Pose, cow face arm stretch variation, as the sun sets in Pathos and a ship sails overhead. The Hatha style of yoga that I was taught, and teach, emphasises the role of breaks and spaces between poses, rather than flowing continuously without break. Continuous flowing is used in the Sun Salutation as a warm-up, but not throughout the class. In the context of yoga, the more continuous the flow, the more physical the activity becomes, and the less chance there is to experience that heightened state of being that stillness can bring, as a reflex to activity, in the pauses in between. Having said that, I am a big fan of flows, and have increasingly introduced smaller flows out of fixed poses, to add interest in my classes. The flowing part of yoga relates in many ways to the Sakti aspect of the Siva/Sakti balance, the dance of the cosmos, Siva in Nataraja form, the expression of creation, and is actually very much in sync with the Western emphasis on the dynamic aspect of the divine in creation. Poses like child pose are specifically suited to those pause moments, when we let all our systems calm down, and we enter into that blanket of rejuvenating peace, that we also experience in deep sleep. If you pay close attention to your subtle energy in a yoga class, you will notice that after pausing in such effortless poses, it’s as if a new flow of energy restores your spark and you feel ready for another more dynamic pose. If you can sense that feeling, you are riding the wave of subtle presence that we attune to in meditation, which can seem to descend like a cloud, and then lift us up into a light and floaty state. Rest works best as a reflex to intensive and extensive activity, which stress tests our systems, and fires up our inner vitality, so that when we pause, we float up into space, and when the class ends, we feel we are walking on air.