• Sally Smith

orient to access center

Practicing yoga is really just practicing how to effortlessly move through life. Earthly embodiment is challenging. As one of the hardest realms in which to reincarnate, it is dense and matter-packed, therefore, the weight of this world reigns heavy on our shoulders. There are a lot of easier worlds we could go to instead, but as human beings, we’re a determined race. Planet earth presents ample opportunities to learn not only as a single human being, but also as a soul, navigating our way closer to the divine by way of karmic evolution.

Humans are incredibly proficient in developing tools to make hard work easier; walking long distances hurts my feet: the wheel; counting large numbers gives me a headache: the abacus; if I don’t have the power to contact anyone at anytime, I’ll feel lost and unwhole: the iPhone. The point is, the human race, although fundamentally flawed in many ways, is resourceful in finding tools that work and using them to their advantage. Yoga is no different and is one of humanity’s oldest tools for its highest purpose: reconnecting with the divine while bound in an earthly body. This is a huge and abstract concept, so first we must understand and work on the fundamentals of the practice which ultimately requires diligence and accountability. In order to remain accountable, you need a measure.

Maps are a measure to orient ourselves. Maps teach us where to go; so, by placing a map on our body, we determine our strengths and our weaknesses. Whatever you do on your yoga mat is a testament to how you handle yourself in life: your thoughts, reactions, observations, awareness, behaviors, habits; all these things present themselves in a yoga practice and all of them are representative of your personal choices inherent in your life.

Time and space are earthly illusions; however, we can use these constructs to modify an earthly existence. Imagine the duality of time: the front of your body represents your future and your potential, and the back of your body represents your past and your memories. Now the duality of space: the left side of your body is your feminine characterized by emotions and receptivity. The right side of your body is your masculine: your logic and drive. Present is not necessarily a component of time nor space, but a characteristic of center. We strive to orient ourselves at center.

We come into our bodies with our first nature: our initial set of strengths and weaknesses, but part of yoga and the reason that we map ourselves out is to develop awareness in the places that we don’t naturally access. In finding center, we don’t want to overcorrect; instead we balance ourselves out. Take the foot, for example: if you’re one who ruminates, you’re probably getting stuck in your past and hanging back on your heels. This doesn’t mean you now overcorrect to place all of your weight on the balls of your feet; it simply means you place the awareness in the balls of the feet to ensure an equal distribution of weight across the entire foot: balance over the arch of the foot to access center.

My practice changes everyday, but some constants assert themselves as personal propensities for which I must first become aware, and then work to balance. When I first started yoga, I was full of potential and action. My practice was characterized by beautiful backbends, quick movements, and heat. My strengths lay in looking towards my future and working to drive my ambition. To create balance, I focused on restorative postures, folding forward and slowing down. I looked towards my depths and returned to my memories.

Center allows access. When operating from a place of center, you can just as easily go inward, outward, forward, or backward. You determine your direction by using your entire periphery that center guarantees -- what you need in the present moment. So, when struggle comes your way, as we all know it will, and you end up getting knocked off balance, you can more easily orient and find your way back to your home base. During the periods where I have felt depressed, I used my polarity of space as to not sink so deeply inward into my emotions, and instead relied on logic to remind myself the techniques to lift my spirits. Across the polarity of time, rather than getting lost in memories, I reminded myself of the excitement and freedom I feel about my future.

This is the foundation of mapping out duality in the body, and yoga is only one technique. I like to compliment my practice with breathwork, soulwork, meditation, mushrooms ;)) and talk-therapy. Whatever helps you uncover your habits will provide insight to help you reintegrate and realign. So, use the maps you already have: a clock, a compass, a Lo Shu Square. If you’re standing on the face of a clock, your future lays ahead of you at 12 o’clock, while your past is behind you at 6. Your masculine on your right lies at 3 and your feminine on your left at 9. You occupy the time and space of center. Life on planet earth is supposed to be hard, so whenever the tribulations of this life start to weigh you down, remember that you chose this place. It’s created for the for the strong-willed, the determined, and the resilient soul-seekers on the road to evolution.