“When the Roses Speak, I Pay Attention” by Mary Oliver “As long as we are able to
be extravagant we will be
hugely and damply
extravagant. Then we will drop
foil by foil to the ground. This
is our unalterable task, and we do it
joyfully.” And they went on. “Listen,
the heart-shackles are not, as you think,
death, illness, pain,
unrequited hope, not loneliness, but
lassitude, rue, vainglory, fear, anxiety,
selfishness.” Their fragrance all the while rising
from their blind bodies, making me
spin with joy.
When we practice āsana with attention and alignment, as we do in the Iyengar method, we see our limitations, weaknesses, shortcomings.... we are set to a task that is seemingly at odds with itself. “Turn this that way, extend this forward and draw this backward at the same time.” The experience is not just physically challenging, but mentally and emotionally. The actions at times may feel impossible. We may feel far from the goal. Our capacity to be present is stretched. We are training ourselves to see things as they are—to witness the reality of our present condition. Gradually with each undertaking, each class, each practice, each repetition of āsana while working actions skillfully— we are taking steps to grow not just physically stronger, but wiser, mentally stronger, able to discern between the necessary pain and difficulty of transformation and the lassitude of succumbing to the tendency of all nature to decay... Alignment evolves from steady practice. Keep going.
Parśva Ūrdhva Padmāsana in Śīrsāsana—Upward Lotus to the Side in Head Balance Pose