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February 2022 - The Last Yoga Pose You'll Ever Do

Dear Yoga Friends,

Recently I happened to have the thought that there will be a last time that I see my daughter, that I don't know when that will be, and that it could actually be any time that I see my daughter. This caught me off guard, and I became emotional. Sitting with this for a bit, the thought generalized, and I realized that there will be a last time that I see anything. I began to look at things—each tree, each person walking along with their dog, each building, each cloud in the sky. It became clear that this actually was the last time I will see those things. Because everything changes. My daughter will never be the daughter that I last saw.

Where the heck is this going? Well, in yoga practice we learn to do each asana fresh, alert, with an open mind, as if it were the first time we were doing the pose. What if it were the last? What if you were chewing your favorite food for the last time? You would savor it more, notice its special smell, texture, and taste. If you could let go of the sadness of loss, this would be a pure, peak experience. Yoga practice can guide us in this direction, to find joy and contentment in each moment. Yes, it does start with aligning your right foot with the middle of your left arch. :)

I keep returning to Sutra III.53 (translation from Light on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali by B.K.S. Iyengar):

By samyama [integrated concentration and meditation] on moment and on the continuous flow of moments, the yogi gains exalted knowledge, free from the limitations of time and space.

Something magical is going on in our lives in the present moment that we routinely ignore. In his book The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Edwin Bryant comments:

Therefore, from the perspective of this metaphysics, or perhaps, more accurately, traditional Hindu physics, there is only one moment in all reality—the present. The earlier moment has ceased to be by becoming, or moving into, the present (at which time it no longer exists in its previous location), and the future has yet to be, or be moved into.

Pick a pose, any pose. Can you practice it fresh, like the first time you're doing it? Take a breath. Can you experience it like the first breath you've taken, and let it go as a unique breath you'll never take again, ready to greet the next new breath? And what happens then?




* Upcoming Workshop (on Zoom): "Happy Feet—Yoga for Feet & Ankles", 2-4pm Saturday, February 19th at IYISF

* Livestream classes: 12:15-1:15pm Tuesdays (mixed level) & noon-1:30pm Thursdays (intermediate) at IYISF

Photo from Yoga Journal

Chad Balch