This time of year the days and nights are even-handed, the temperature is benign, neither too warm nor too cool. A kind of balance that reminds me of a virtue in yoga that I discovered long ago.
After a few hundred classes, the euphoria of yoga wanes. Not enough to make me stop practicing, but enough that my after-class high is diminished, and like a junkie in search of a bigger fix, I yearn for more. Fortunately, more is there. Though instead of manifesting as more adrenaline, ‘more’ reveals itself through greater control, and deeper peace.
In yoga, we embrace what is uncomfortable, settle into it, befriend it. When I rise out of eagle pose at the end of warm-up, when the sweat has started to flow across every pore, I feel dizzy.
I’ve learned to accept the wooziness, to stand still and upright, to allow the spinning in my head play itself out. Experience has taught me that I will not fall; that my equilibrium will sort itself out in stillness; I need not lurch my body in pursuit of more gravity.
I’ve learned that, in standing head to feet pose, I can balance better when I grip the entire connection between my foot on the ground and the one I hold between my hands; a route that extends up through one stiff knee, across my butt, out through my clenched thigh, across the stretched Achilles. My legs find stillness only when I acknowledge their connection to every other part of my body.
As the initial thrill of yoga gives over to greater understanding, I’ve discovered that achieving full expression of a pose, from an accustomed position of standing, kneeling, or lying flat to a yogic position of strength plus balance, includes passing through a neutral zone, a moment of suspended time and mass en route from idle rest to conscious alignment. The neutral zone doesn’t exist at the beginning of the posture, as I extend arms or legs in a new direction. Nor does it exist in its full expression, which must always be realized with maximum effort. The neutral zone is that pinpoint of time and space when forces of momentum counter disequilibrium. When my body is not balanced, yet I do not fall.
The moment casts shadow on Newton’s second law of motion. For even though I move, my mass times acceleration, for an instant, equals zero.