Ripples of stillness & strength

By Jana
Yoga Instructor

It’s nearly October, and I’m so glad. September — there was something about it, this time around. There is summer. There is fall. And there is another season that happened within me — that season where things pull your interior life apart, then piece it back together, slowly and without permission or control.

That’s my season, and I feel as if I have come to the eye of the storm, or to the end of it. Not sure which. It’s a sweet space that I am in now. I’m grateful for the abundance September has offered.

Given the state of the world at present, I feel like I’m not the only one experiencing this season of deep change. My go-to when things fall apart is body-movement: when I was a teenager, I ran. Three miles. Always, at least three. It is a number that is spiritual and predictable, and in my control. When I was a young adult, I also ran. Heart and mind pounding as the angst of the world swirled all around me. Each meditative step was a chance to bring in breath and let it out, tuning my body and mind into a space that said, “stop and think, then act.” At the end of my run, there was a quiet space. That space was my yoga.

In 1998, my yoga was named. It held a philosophy that was analyzed, shared, pre-determined. A recipe for calm. Now my go-to was not only running and breathing, but an act of rolling out a mat and holding my body in one shape, then another, uttering Sanskrit monikers and letting the rigor of one pose, and then the next, turn the waters of my mind into smooth glass.

It was all yoga then, and it’s all yoga now. After every unsettling event created a ripple, I had a place to go. That’s what yoga gives: a preparation for the fact that those ripples will come. That sometimes they are not ripples but tall waves, crashing with a power that can turn rock to sand.

Yoga is the poses. Each asana is an offering and a metaphor, a chance to show resilience and faith for the truth of that precise moment. The whole moment, exactly as it is — not how we may revise it, mentally, to fit a cause or a theory, or to please the ego. But it’s own actual paint-on-canvas reality. It’s own snapshot. As is, and without polish. Each practice is satya, truth — a physiological reset that clears out the muck, and makes room for freedom and grace.

Yoga is the breath. Each inbreath and outbreath an anatomy of life, and a focus that, when respected, can transform, cleanse, heal.

Yoga is fluid movement — a poem of the body. Each practice it’s own artistic piece, if approached with a sense of openness and acceptance.

Yoga is love. It is life. It is grace, happiness and union. It is every complete moment, in its most honest space, with nothing missed. Nothing taken for granted.

Yoga is everything, everywhere, all the time. It is not just a means to a fit body, but it is that. It’s not just a coping mechanism, but it is also that. It’s not just any one thing or any of all things. It is the thing. Where we are, where we once were, and where we are all are headed. All at once.

In my nation, things are fitfully playing out, and reforming into something else. In my local community, things are fitfully playing out, and reforming into something else. In my own life, the same. The symmetry I now see is so odd and beautiful, at times terrifying, and at times just like ripples on water. As I stop and watch all this rapid change, with absolute awe, I find the pace stunning. Hard to grasp.

Yoga is for that. When the pace is too much — too hard to grasp. When we move, flow, breathe, and focus on only that movement and breath, for just an hour or two, we give ourselves over to something greater: an energy of fierce calm, of total immovable stillness. In that way, we create a peaceful space within ourselves, and give the moment within us a chance to ripple outward.

Hate spreads, but love does too. Make your ripples calm, sweet, still. In doing that, make others calmer, more still, and strong enough to endure change, and face it with strength. To avoid the urge to lash out or withdraw — to create a space within all of us that is so strong, it can be steady in the midst of chaos.

What if everyone did that? What if everyone did yoga?

Jana Hill is a yoga instructor and writer. She practices and teaches on Camano Island, and in Stanwood.