It had been over 3 months since I last rolled out my yoga mat. My ankle injury in August and my dermatology journey this fall prevented me from doing my yoga practice. The thought of beginning again was a bit daunting. Would I remember what to do? How much flexibility had I lost? Would I be strong enough to do some of the poses? Would I be sore for days after I began again? These questions tried to prevent me from rolling out that mat. I took a deep breath and rolled it out anyway.
Some of those questions were answered fairly quickly. Yes, I remembered much of the routine I had been doing for years, but not all of it. No, I definitely wasn’t strong enough to hold some of the poses very long. And yes, it seemed like I lost quite a bit of my flexibility. I decided to be gentle with myself and practice for no more than an hour doing whatever I could remember. It felt like trying to start an old car that has been sitting in a barn for years. The engine sputters and resists the first few times you turn the ignition key, but eventually, with persistence and maybe a little tinkering, the car comes to life. That was my body that day.
By the time an hour passed, I was ready for my favorite yoga pose…Savasana, the corpse pose! There is something so rewarding and peaceful about simply being on my back with my arms at my sides after twisting and turning my body for an hour. Some of my best meditations have occurred during Savasana. Before Savasana, however, I do one last stretch for my lower back. Before dropping my knees to one side, I cross one leg in front of the other and hook that foot on the other side of the shin of the stationary leg. This leg configuration is called eagle pose. I managed to do this easily with my right leg, but when I attempted to hook my left foot on the other side of my right shin, my legs rebelled. I must have looked like a fish thrashing on a dock as I tried in vain to lock my foot in place! Eventually, I surrendered to the fact that it wasn’t going to happen, at least not that day. This was truly a blow to my ego, but there was nothing I could do but let my legs drop as they were and breathe.
Three days later I rolled out my yoga mat for the second time. I was a little more optimistic this time. My body was only slightly sore from Saturday’s practice, so I felt like I found the right balance between pushing myself past inertia but not far enough to injure myself. Indeed, my body felt just a little bit stronger. I also remembered a few more poses than I had the first day. When I felt complete, I prepared for Savasana with that final lower back stretch. Once again, my right leg clicked into place for eagle pose with very little effort. With a slow breath and not much expectation, I wrapped my left leg around my right and attempted to hook my foot on the other side of my right shin. To my surprise, it found a holding place there as I dropped over to the left. A wave of relief and gratitude washed over me. The old car engine was coming back to life little by little, and I would soon be able to enjoy the ride.
The significance of this being “eagle pose” occurred to me later. “Within the belief systems of Native American tribes, Eagle represents a state of grace achieved through hard work, understanding, and a completion of the tests of initiation which result in the taking of one’s personal power. It is only through the trial of experiencing the lows in life as well as the highs, and through the trial of trusting one’s connection to Great Spirit, that the right to use the essence of Eagle medicine is earned.” This quote from The Medicine Cards by Jamie Sams and David Carson sums it up perfectly. I felt like I’d earned the right to the essence of eagle pose. I had to embrace all of my journey and find a place of acceptance for it all. This is possible only by remembering that we are always connected to Spirit. Thank you, Eagle, for this beautiful reminder.
If you find yourself experiencing one of those lows, it would be my great honor to remind you of your connection to Spirit through Life Coaching or Family Constellations sessions. Please visit my website for more information about both and to make an appointment.
Until next time, may the wings of Eagle lift you up and over any of life’s challenges!
Who would attempt to fly with the tiny wings of a sparrow when the mighty power of an eagle has been given him?
A Course in Miracles – M-4.I.2:2