wheels, chakras, the universe, dancing shiva, creation

This is another spoil/pic from this weekend’s Hot Springs Yoga Retreat with my friend Shiva Reinhardt in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. I am forever changed by this epic retreat and am now seriously contemplating getting my 300 hours of yoga teacher training to become a 500-hour RYT with the same woman that Shiva trained with for her 500 hour. The style of yoga Shiva teaches is unlike any I’ve experienced and it spoke to my heart and spirit like living water for my soul. It brought a wholeness my yoga practice has been looking for. My friend Shiva has a wide influence of training, but this weekend we specifically practiced Prana Vinyasa Flow: Prana meaning the vital-life-force or creator or God, Vinyasa meaning movement synchronized with breath/energy, and Flow meaning a state of unified awareness or consciousness/enlightenment. This awareness on Prana (God) combined with a lunar (meaning of a feminine quality, gentle, beautiful, graceful) and solar (meaning active, strong, a masculine quality) asana focused practice was delicious! I want more!!!

Besides my now newfound love for Prana Vinyasa Flow yoga, I wanted to briefly share my knowledge about the sculpture behind me called Nataraja or Shiva, the lord/king of the dance.

Primarily from the book “Myths of the Asana: the Stories at the Heart of the Yoga Tradition” I’ve learned that the Shiva is one of the god’s in the Hindu trinity. Shiva is often depicted in statue form (pictured here), dancing on a dwarf, with snakes around his neck, dreadlocks sticking out from his head, and encircled by a ring of fire, as an image to convey compassion: a contradiction for those who hunger and thirst for understanding/rightehousness (Matthew 5:6). Shiva represents the ability to turn ages to moments, so that although the days may sometimes feel long and difficult, they are but a passing glimpse in eternity. In one of Shiva’s hands, he holds a drum, signaling death and rebirth, which he beats fast. Shiva dances to his own music within a circle of flame known as samsara. Samsara is likened to the cyclical pattern of birth, life, death, and thus, reincarnation. Another way to describe samsara is: patterns and habits in our live’s, some of which can inhibit us. For Shiva, dance serves to help him find the rhythm amidst this spinning karmic cycle of samsara and he is unafraid of this building wheel of fire and flame, he in untroubled.

The snakes around Shiva’s neck are metaphors for the power we humans have, being made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) and as such, our divine nature (2 Peter 1:4) to overcome. The yoga tradition recognizes that our misunderstanding as something other than Divine will poison us with ignorance. We practice the yoga tools of asana (poses), meditation, and pranayama (breathing exercises) to remember our enlightened state of Divinity.

The dwarf that Shiva dances upon is the demon of ignorance/ego/selfishness who causes us to become caught up in our own personal and daily life and goings on, busy-ness and drama. Shiva demonstrates that we humans can use the demonic for good (Genesis 50:20) and crush it with our heels (Romans 16:20). Shiva takes a higher gaze (Psalm 123:1) and uses this dwarf as a pedestal for his dance, elevating his consciousness, rising himself above his daily life, dancing with the rhythm of the universe/God, as if lead by Holy Spirit.

Shiva shows that life is cyclical and all that is born also dies. With the understanding that destruction makes the way for rebirth and in rebirth and growth, compassion comes. Shiva is the destroyer so that the Hindu god Brahma can create and rebuild new and fertile life.

The story of Shiva is that of freedom: going with the flow of life (Holy Spirit) and the truth that nothing is permanent. Shiva dances out of liberation and shows us that we can overcome fear. Shiva rides the wave of change, attaining bliss. The scientific law of conservation of mass states that matter can neither be created nor destroyed, meaning that to make something new, something old must be destroyed. Shivas demonstrates that to create change, new life and freedom, we have to destroy social norms, old ways of thinking, and patterns that no longer serve us. So, if we truly want change and growth, we must embrace a little death and destruction.

Coincidentally, I chose to take a deep backbend for this picture. Backbends are very opening, vulnerable, and they can be scary. We often hold fear in our hearts. As we open our hearts, physically and emotionally, we have an opportunity to let go of fear and grow. This retreat was much of that for me and this Shiva statue serves to remind me of my divinity, my humility, my power, and that as I look toward heaven, I can dance with the rhythm of the Holy Spirit and have fun on this journey called life, while holding compassion for others in each of their’s.

Dance on my friends. Maybe I’ll see you on the dance floor….

Namaste!

Painful Hope: Belief

I have been experiencing excruciating pain in my left leg for some time now but 2 weeks ago it got unbearable. I have had a little bit of an occasional limp these past several months but now, it’s constant. Pain sucks. Pain hurts. Pain is real. Yet, is it?!

This week was monumental for many reasons: I turned 38, I had some big personal revelations, I finally found out the root cause of the leg pain and am working on it, and more. I’m making huge progress on and in my health and life and over and over again I’m reminded that things take time and patience. I said to a yoga class of mine this week that “if we think we have ever arrived: we’ve got all the patience and all the hope and all the health we possibly ever could, we are already deceived.” There is always more. Always. Heaven isn’t fully realized on earth, yet. Trials and tribulations are still here. We are working out our salvation and yet, and yet, we have it all. Right now. Right here, we have all the fullness of Life available to us and it’s real.

Here is where our mind’s get to be constantly renewed: as we live each day and moment we are confronted with choice: will I succumb to the pain and give up? Will I believe people who tell me that “this is just what aging looks like?” Will I give up even one small dream for the sake of convenience and to avoid difficulty? I say no! Yes I cry. Yes I lay on my back with my leg propped up, fully aware of the pain to the point where it feels like I’m in a swirling ball of confusion. Yes I don’t always know how to respond with kindness when I get asked for the 12th time that day why I’m limping. But, and a big but, I keep moving forward. I keep looking to the God who says anything is possible. Anything is possible. Anything. The question is, do I believe? In the easy times it’s so simple to believe. It’s when the s*it hits the fan that our belief comes to the surface. Over and over again I have to say yes: “I believe.” I hope. I have to cut through the surface-hope that is just wishful thinking and get to the hope with a soul. Hope with a substance. Hope that pierces through whatever lie I may be believing so God and I can polish the diamond of hope and I believe again.

Hope

I believe, I truly believe that we can live a life free if pain. My beliefs are being put to the test. All. The. Time. I take a step forward, see how my beliefs are coming along, fix where they got faulty, hope again, and take another step forward. Sometimes it’s a run. Sometimes it’s a galloping skip. Sometimes it’s two steps forward and one step back. Sometimes it’s with a limp. But I truly believe that everyday, in every way, I am getting better and better! That is a good feeling. That is belief in action. That is hope.

The reality of these beliefs may not always be pretty, they may actually be downright ugly for a time. There may be pain. It will probably be hard. But belief is real. You and I are real. That’s the only way I want to live: for real. I pray we never give up, we never lose hope. We keep pressing forward to the prize of heaven on earth. I think there is no better prize. The beauty comes; it always does, and it’s so much sweeter when we know that we didn’t give up. This is reality.

What are your beliefs?

xoxo